It is increasingly rare for the U.S. to come together over a common enemy (like, a global pandemic couldn’t even do that), but allow me to offer up David Tyler Hines. The 29-year-old Florida man applied for $13.5 million in taxpayer funds from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)—which sought to help small businesses keep employees on their payroll during coronavirus closures—and was approved for nearly $4 million in three forgivable, low-interest PPP loans despite the fact that he either did not actually have any employees to retain or paid them pennies compared to what he filed for, BuzzFeed reports. Not only that, but he has been charged with bank fraud after allegedly using the money on luxury goods for himself. Gotta love a huckster who uses covid-19 as an opportunity to go shopping!
Hines maintains that the loans were taken out to pay 70 employees of a few moving businesses he managed in Miami, but the criminal complaint makes it clear that investigators found no signs of any wages paid between 2015 and 2020.
They did, however, find that Hines had used the money to purchase “luxury and personal items,” including a $318,497.53 blue 2020 Lamborghini Huracán EVO, $11,000 on hotels, $8,530 at Graff Diamonds and $5,000 at Saks Fifth Ave, CNN reports.
Hines’s attorney Chad Piotrowski told CNN that his client “is a legitimate business owner who, like millions of Americans, suffered financially during the pandemic... While the allegations appear very serious, especially in light of the pandemic, David is anxious to tell his side of the story when the time comes.”
Hines faces charges of bank fraud, sending a false statement to a lending institution, and engaging in transactions in unlawful proceeds. The first two charges could have a $1,000,000 fine and up to 30 years in prison—each—and the final charge could mean an additional prison sentence of up to 10 years.
Last week, Hines was fined $100 for not wearing a mask out and about in Miami, WSVN reported. “Every single business has gone out of business. The government, the Treasury, they gave $2 trillion for PPP loans for small businesses,” he told the local news organization at the time. “Eighty-five percent went to major corporations.” The irony, huh?