Steve August 4, 2020
texas-businessman-spent-coronavirus-relief-funding-on-lamborghini,-strip-clubs,-feds-say

A Texas businessman who is accused of securing $1.6 million in coronavirus relief funds and spending it on a Lamborghini, a Rolex and strip clubs has been charged with fraud.

The man, Lee Price III, 29, was expected to appear in U.S. District Court in Houston on charges of wire fraud, bank fraud, making false statements to a financial institution and other crimes, the U.S. attorney general’s office and the U.S. attorney’s office in Houston said in a joint statement Tuesday.

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Price is alleged to have submitted a fraudulent loan application for the Paycheck Protection Program, a federal loan program that has set aside more than $600 billion to help small businesses struggling during the coronavirus pandemic.

Federal data show that millions of dollars in paycheck protection loans have also gone to celebrities like Kanye West and the artist Jeff Koons, the Church of Scientology and Joe Farrell, a billionaire property developer.

A Florida man, David T. Hines, was accused last month of obtaining $4 million in paycheck protection funding and buying a 2020 Lamborghini Huracán, valued at $318,000.

Federal authorities said Price received two loans — one for $900,000 and another for $700,000 — for two businesses that he said had “numerous” employees and “significant” payroll expenses, according to his applications.

The businesses had neither, authorities said, and Price is alleged to have spent the money on a Lamborghini Urus, a Rolex watch and a 2020 Ford F-350 pickup. He is also accused of spending thousands of dollars at strip clubs and nightclubs in Houston, the statement said.

It wasn’t clear whether Price entered a plea Tuesday. The Federal Public Defender in Houston, which is representing Price, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Tim Stelloh

Tim Stelloh is a reporter for NBC News, based in California.

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