Monetary crime: Texas scammers convicted of stealing $ 1.6 million in COVID-19 assist to pay for Lamborghini and strip membership visits

It was a Texas-sized scam.

A Houston man was sentenced to nine years in prison for stealing $ 1.6 million in COVID-19 supplies, using it to buy a $ 230,000 Lamborghini, a new home and office, and to go on trips in strip clubs and nights out on the town.

Lee Price III, 30, pleaded guilty in September of defrauding the government by submitting false applications for paycheck protection program loans, claiming he employed dozens of workers when in fact he was not employing anyone.

Prosecutors say Price filed loan applications in 2020 for three companies that he said had between 30 and 75 employees each and that had hundreds of thousands of dollars in payroll each month. However, a search of tax and employment records in Texas found none of the companies had employees, prosecutors said.

In one case, Price allegedly listed an 88-year-old man who had recently died while managing one of the companies and forged his signature on loan applications. In another case, he used his father's social security number to apply for one of the loans.

Authorities say Price also lied on the PPP filings by stating that he had no criminal record when convicted twice in 2010 of forgery and robbery in 2011 and on pending state charges of manipulation of government files when he was arrested appended.

In total, prosecutors say Price received more than $ 1.6 million in fraudulently obtained loans.

After receiving the money, prosecutors said Price quickly bought a Lamborghini Urus SUV for $ 230,000, a Ford F-350 pickup truck for $ 85,000, and a Rolex watch for $ 14,000. He also paid two down payments of over $ 100,000 each for a home and office and tens of thousands more to rent a luxury apartment in downtown Houston.

Prosecutors said Price used thousands of dollars of ill-gotten money on trips to strip clubs, nightclubs, and liquor store bills.

Price announced on the day of his sentencing that he would appeal. A message for his attorney was not returned immediately.

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