Prosecutors: Texas man stole $1.6M in COVID-19 relief money

HOUSTON (AP) — Federal prosecutors say a Houston man bilked the government out of $1.6 million in COVID-19 business relief funding and spent some of the money on a Lamborghini, jewelry and trips to strip clubs, among other things.

Lee Price III, 29, is charged with making false statements to a financial institution, wire fraud, bank fraud and engaging in unlawful monetary transactions, the Houston Chronicle reported.

Prosecutors allege that Price stole from the Paycheck Protection Program, which gives low-interest loans to small businesses struggling during the pandemic.

One company called Price Enterprises Holdings received $900,000 and another company, 713 Construction, received $700,000, according to an unsealed complaint. The 713 Construction application named a person as the CEO who had died a month before the form was submitted in May. Prosecutors say the application contained inaccurate information pertaining to employee numbers and payroll expenses.

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Price also used the loans for a 2020 Ford pickup, a Rolex watch and real estate, according to prosecutors. He was scheduled to make an initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sam S. Sheldon on Tuesday.