The Department of Justice claimed on Monday that a Florida man fraudulently obtained nearly $4 million in coronavirus relief funding which he used to purchase a Lamborghini sports car.
David T. Hines, 29, of Miami, Florida is being charged for one count of bank fraud, one count of making false statements to a financial institution, and one count of engaging in transactions in unlawful proceeds. If convicted, Hines could face up to 70 years in prison.
According to the DOJ, federal agents seized the $318,000 Lamborghini and $3.4 million from Hines’s bank account.
The unsealed complaint alleges that Hines sought approximately $13.5 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds for the “purpose of paying employees” on behalf of different companies. Hines claimed he operated four businesses with 70 employees and had $4 million in monthly expenses, according to the New York Times.
“Collectively, Hines falsely claimed his companies paid millions of dollars in payroll in the first quarter of 2020. State and bank records, however, show little to no payroll expense during this period,” the complaint said.
Within a few days of the bank approving $3.9 million in loans, Hines purchased a 2020 Lamborghini Huracán, which he registered under his name and one of the companies. In addition, Hines also spent funds on luxury goods at Miami retailers and resorts.
“There does not appear to be any business purpose for most, if not all, of these expenses,” Bryan Masmela, a U.S. postal inspector, wrote in the complaint. Masmela outlined several of Mr. Hines’ payments from May to June.
Hines appeared before the U.S. Chief Magistrate Judge John J. O’Sullivan to be notified of the charges. Hines’ lawyer, Chad Piotrowski, said that his client was “a legitimate business owner who, like millions of Americans, suffered financially during the pandemic”.
“[Hines] is anxious to tell his side of the story when the time comes,” Piotrowski added.
The Paycheck Protection Program was enacted as part of the coronavirus stimulus package known as the CARES Act which President Trump signed in March. The program was intended to provide forgivable loans to small businesses to keep employees on the payroll.