29-Year-Old Fla. Man Who Got $4M in COVID-19 Relief Funds Buys $318K Lamborghini: Officials
A Florida business owner was arrested and charged with bank fraud, among other things, after he inflated his business costs to receive more money in coronavirus relief loans, then blew the cash on things like luxury hotels and a $318,497 Lamborghini sports car, officials said.
David T. Hines, 29, was charged with bank fraud, engaging in transactions in unlawful proceeds and making a false statement to a lending institution, according to an affidavit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
Hines was one of many business owners to seek financial help amid the coronavirus shutdown by applying for a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan, which required businesses to submit an application with information such as monthly payroll expenses and number of employees.
But instead of using the money to help keep his four businesses afloat, he “immediately diverted loan proceeds to unauthorized uses,” the affidavit said.
Hines initially sought $13.5 million in PPP funds, which he claimed was to pay approximately 70 employees, according to the affidavit, which was written by U.S. Postal Inspector Bryan Masmela.
“Those purported employees either did not exist or earned a fraction of what Hines claimed in his PPP applications,” Masmela wrote, adding that Hines’ monthly expenses only averaged around $200,000, and not $4 million, as he had claimed.
Three of Hines’ seven loan applications were approved, and he received $3,984,557 million in PPP loans in May, officials said.
That money immediately went to things like dating websites, luxury jewelry and clothes and stays at popular Miami Beach resorts, according to the affidavit.
Hines allegedly dropped $4,662 at Saks Fifth Avenue, $8,530 at Graff Diamonds, and had a $4,089 stay at the Fontainebleau, among other expenses.
He also spent $318,497 on a Lamborghini Huracan Evo on May 18, which he registered jointly in his name and in the name of Unified Relocation Solutions (URS), his self-described moving company, officials said.
The Miami Herald reported that the car has since been impounded following a July 11 hit-and-run accident, and will be seized by prosecutors.
URS is one of four of Hines’ business; according to the affidavit, none have a working website, and the only recorded activity of the businesses anywhere on the internet comes from negative Better Business Bureau reviews for two of them.
“Based on customer comments, it appears that Promaster [Movers] and [We-Pack Moving] acted as brokers for moving services,” the affidavit said. “Virtually all of the reviews include complaints related to bait-and-switch practices and other deceitful activities.”
The bank accounts for Hines’ companies were closed on June 24, and he still had $3.46 million left, according to the affidavit.
Hines — whom PEOPLE could not reach for comment — could face up to 70 years in prison if convicted on all charges, The New York Times reported.
His attorney Chad Piotrowski — who declined to comment to PEOPLE — told the Times that Hines was “a legitimate business owner who, like millions of Americans, suffered financially during the pandemic” and “is anxious to tell his side of the story when the time comes.”
Following his arrest, Hines was granted a $100,000 bond and will be allowed to stay at his mother's home with a GPS monitor attached to his body, the Herald reported.