During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, as the U.S. government was seemingly handing out stimulus checks and other lucrative handouts for businesses, it’s becoming clear that rampant fraud occurred during that time frame.
According to the New York Post, one of the fraudsters who used a large pot of COVID-relief funds, in the form of PPP loans for several businesses, to purchase a Lamborghini Urus, a Ford F-350 truck, and a Rolex watch, is now on his way to prison.
The Department of Justice announced that Lee Price II, a Texas man, was sentenced this week to a staggering nine years in prison for a number of fraud-related charges, including money laundering, wire fraud, and more.
The 30-year-old man received a whopping $1.6 million in COVID-related PPP funds by entering false information on the PPP loan applications he sent in at the time.
“On the applications, Price used the name of a person who died before the documents were submitted, the court documents said. In the paperwork, he also fudged payroll expenses and the number of employees he purportedly had at three separate businesses, according to the court docs,” the Post noted.
According to CBS News, Price listed one of the businesses, “Price Enterprises,” as having over 50 employees and a monthly payroll totaling around $375,000. In reality, the company he listed had zero payroll, because it also had zero employees.
After Price was caught last year with the illegally-obtained funds, he ultimately pleaded guilty in September. The DOJ reported that authorities were able to recoup around $700,000 of the $1.6 million he managed to obtain from the fraudulent loans.
As CBS noted, Price has a criminal history at least somewhat related to his latest fraud-based crime spree, having received felony convictions “in 2010 for forgery and in 2011 for robbery.”
Price is one of potentially hundreds of Americans who abused the COVID-relief programs at the time. The DOJ noted that, to date, they’ve recovered over $75 million in PPP loan funds from similar incidents.