HOUSTON – A Houston man has pleaded guilty Monday to federal charges for getting more than $1.6 million in Paycheck Protection Program loans, designed to help struggling small businesses pay their employees and stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lee Price III, 30, submitted two fraudulent PPP loan applications to two different lenders on the behalf of entities 713 Construction LLC and Price Enterprises Holdings LLC, according to court documents. The loan application for 713 Construction LLC was submitted under the name of a person who died shortly before the application was submitted, according to court documents.
Price received over $1.6 million in PPP loans from the combination of the two loan applications, according to court documents. He falsely represented the number of employees and payroll expenses in each of the PPP loan applications, according to prosecutors. Price also submitted fraudulent tax records and other materials, prosecutors said.
After receiving the funds, Price went on a shopping spree for luxury items, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in a matter of days, according to court documents. Price bought a $233,000 Lamborghini Urus, an $85,000 Ford F-350 pickup truck, and a $14,000 Rolex, according to court documents. Prosecutors say he also spent thousands of dollars at Houston nightclubs and strip clubs, and more than $100,000 to lease office space in Memorial City.
The Department of Justice, along with law enforcement partners, seized over $700,000 of the disbursed PPP funds in this matter, according to a release.
Price pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud and three counts of money laundering. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 29 and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for each count of wire fraud and 10 years in prison for each count of money laundering, according to a release.