Authorities accused a Florida man of defrauding almost $4 million from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the federal loans program intended to aid struggling businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of using the loan to keep employees on payroll, David T. Hines allegedly used the money to buy himself a new Lamborghini and a host of other indulgences.
According to the Justice Department’s criminal complaint, Hines attempted to secure some $13.5 million in PPP loan money. The PPP was part of the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid bill that Congress passed in March.
But in seeking the loan, Hines allegedly lied about the number of employees on his payroll. While he reported that he had 70 employees, prosecutors now say that he was lying to get more money from the government. “Those purported employees,” the complaint reads, “either did not exist or earned a fraction of what Hines claimed in his PPP application.” Moreover, authorities allege that his bank records “show little to no payroll expense” during the first quarter of 2020.
And while the complaint says that Hines reported 70 employees, his financial habits tell a different story. Prosecutors claim that Hines has an average monthly cash flow of $200,000, and that none of the PPP money went towards payroll.
As soon as he received the loan from the federal government, Hines went on a bender. Officials say he spent the money on dating websites, luxury jewelry, clothing, and Miami beach resorts. Additionally, within days of receiving the loan, Hines dropped $318,000 on a brand new Lamborghini sports car. He registered the vehicle jointly under his own name and the name of his company.
The Feds have now booked Hines on 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.
If convicted of all charges, Hines could be looking at nearly 70 years in prison. But at least he can drive to court in a fancy car.