Federal prosecutors said David Tyler Hines, 29, had requested about $ 13.5 million in funds from the Paycheck Protection Program, which was established in March to provide small businesses with loans to pay employees during the pandemic. Congress approved $ 349 billion for the first round of PPP loans in March, and more than $ 300 billion for a second round in April.
Hines claimed the funds were intended to pay employees at his companies, but U.S. postal inspectors said those employees either did not exist or only earned a fraction of the wages he claimed.
Despite this, Hines was approved for nearly $ 4 million in three low-interest PPP loans, which he then spent on personal expenses including clothing, jewelry, Miami beach resorts, dating sites and a 2020 Lamborghini Huracán Evo, which costs more. of $ 318,000, prosecutors said.
Hines claimed on the nominations that he was either the director or chairman of four separate Miami-based companies, for which he said he employed 70 people with monthly salary expenses of $ 4 million, according to the complaint. . But investigators said the state of Florida had no record of salaries paid to employees at any of Hines’ businesses between 2015 and the first quarter of 2020.
The complaint notes that reviews on the Better Business Bureau website were the only online evidence found for Hines businesses. Reviews for Promaster Movers, Inc. and We-Pack Moving LLC, both of which appeared to be brokers for moving services. Both received BBB F ratings as well as complaints of “bait and change practices” and “deceptive activity,” according to the complaint.
The complaint stated that Hines “never had the payroll obligations he claimed to have” and that after receiving PPP payments into a bank account affiliated with his companies, he “immediately diverted the loan proceeds for non-profit purposes. authorized ”.
Hines’ biggest spending in May and June included nearly $ 5,000 spent at Saks Fifth Avenue, $ 8,530 at a jewelry store, over $ 11,000 at several Miami hotels, and a total of $ 30,000 at a recipient. whom prosecutors called “mom.”
“There does not appear to be any business purpose for most, if not all, of these expenses,” the complaint read.
Hines ‘attorney, Chad Piotrowski, did not immediately return BuzzFeed News’ request for comment, but told CNN his client “is a legitimate business owner” who “suffered financially during the pandemic.”
“While the allegations seem very serious, especially in light of the pandemic, David is eager to tell his side of the story when the time comes,” Piotrowski added.
Hines faces charges of bank fraud, making false statements to a credit union, and transactions involving illegal products. The first two counts each carry a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a fine of $ 1,000,000 if convicted.
Last week, Hines was filmed by WSVN-TV in Miami, being cited by police for not wearing a face mask in public, for which he was given a $ 100 bill.
At the ticket office, he complained to the station about the distribution of PPP loans.
“Every business has gone out of business,” he said. “The government, the treasury – they gave $ 2 trillion for P3 loans for small businesses. Eighty-five percent went to large companies. ”
Hines was previously arrested in 2018 after reporting that his girlfriend stole his Lamborghini, according to NBC Miami.