A man from Houston who scammed $1.6 million in coronavirus relief funds is going to prison due to fraud and money laundering, KHOU reported Monday.
“A judge sentenced 30-year-old Lee Price III to 110 months — or nine years and two months — in federal prison Monday. Price pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering in September,” the outlet said.
According to federal prosecutors, Price lied on Paycheck Protection Program applications to two financial institutions, and one application for 713 Construction noted a CEO who passed away one month before being submitted.
The KHOU report continued:
Price got $700,000 for that one and another $900,000 for another company but neither had employees, according to the charges. He spent the money on a $200,000 Lamborghini Urus, a Ford F-350 pickup, a Rolex and other luxury items. The spending spree also included trips to Houston strip joints and nightclubs.
Officials explained they seized approximately $700,000 in goods and cash from the man who has an extensive rap sheet in Houston from 2007 when he was a teen.
A Click2Houston report from August 2020 detailed the case:
“With Mr. Lee inappropriately using those funds, that’s one less business that wasn’t able to utilize those funds as they could have,” Mark Winchester, of the Small Business Administration, told the outlet at the time.
The CARES Act was designed to give emergency financial assistance to Americans hurting from the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic, the KHOU article said.
“Since the inception of the CARES Act, the U.S. Justice Department’s Fraud Division has prosecuted over 150 defendants in more than 95 criminal cases,” it added. “They’ve seized over $75 million in cash, as well as numerous real estate properties and luxury items purchased with such proceeds.”
Earlier this month, two fugitives from justice were sentenced to federal prison in absentia “for fraudulently obtaining tens of millions of dollars” in coronavirus relief, according to the Justice Department.