Federal authorities arrested a Florida man on charges that he “fraudulently” obtained nearly $4 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and used some of the funds to purchase a 2020 Lamborghini and meet other personal expenses, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on Monday.
Prosecutors also accused the man — David T. Hines, 29, of Miami — of using the PPP loan money to make purchases at resorts in Miami Beach and from luxury jewelry and clothing retailers.
Hines also used the funds for “personal expenses at dating websites,” according to a criminal complaint unsealed Monday upon the defendant’s initial appearance before a judge in the federal court for the Southern District of Florida.
“Authorities seized a $318,000 [2020 Lamborghini Huracan] sports car and $3.4 million from bank accounts at the time of arrest,” the DOJ revealed in a press release.
The purpose of the PPP, a component of the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) approved by Congress in March, is to help support small businesses and other organizations afflicted by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Federal authorities charged Hines with 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 in May.
The criminal complaint explained:
Hines sought approximately $13.5 million in PPP funds, purportedly for the purpose of paying employees. Those purported employees either did not exist or earned a fraction of what Hines claimed in his PPP application.
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 lender approved three applications and paid $3,984,557.00 in PPP loans.
Instead of funding payroll, Hines spent the PPP money on personal expenses at dating websites, luxury jewelry, and clothing retailers, and Miami Beach resorts. Hines also spent PPP funds to purchase a 2020 Lamborghini sports car for $318,497.53 that he registered jointly in his name and the name of his company.
There have been other cases involving loan recipients fraudulently obtaining PPP funds and misusing the money.
The CARES Act mandates that loan recipients use the proceeds “for payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities,” DOJ pointed out.
A criminal complaint is only an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty by a court of law.