Maurice Fayne, known famously as “Arkansas Mo” on “Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta,” has been charged with federal bank fraud.
Per a press release from the Department of Justice on Wednesday, the reality TV personality was arrested and charged after he allegedly misused his Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan, which aims to help businesses and their employees amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In late April, Fayne received $2,045,800 from United Community Bank, with the assumption that he would help support his company, Flame Trucking, and its 107 staffers.
However, officials say Fayne allegedly used $1.5 million of the funds to buy $85,000 in jewelry, including a Rolex watch, a diamond bracelet, and a 5.73-carat diamond ring for himself. Authorities also allege he used the money to lease a 2019 Rolls-Royce Wraith, and to pay off $40,000 in child support.
“The defendant allegedly took advantage of the emergency lending provisions of the Paycheck Protection Program that were intended to assist employees and small businesses battered by the Coronavirus,” U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak said in the release. “We will investigate and charge anyone who inappropriately diverts these critical funds for their own personal gain.”
“At a time when small businesses are struggling for survival, we cannot tolerate anyone driven by personal greed, who misdirects federal emergency assistance earmarked for keeping businesses afloat,” Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta, added in a statement.
Despite these allegations, Fayne’s attorney, Tanya Miller, points the finger at the “considerable confusion” regarding PPP guidelines.
“There has been considerable confusion among small business owners about PPP guidelines — particularly around the question of whether and how business owners are permitted to pay themselves a salary or take an owner’s draw. I hope these issues to be better fleshed out in the weeks and months to come,” Miller told CNN.
Per a court document, Fayne says he used the loan to “pay payroll and other business expenses” of his company and “expressly denied that he used any of the PPP loan proceeds to pay his personal debts” when interviewed by federal agents last week.
However, Fayne reportedly told agents he used the money to buy jewelry, and when asked if he used the funds to lease a Rolls-Royce, he reportedly responded, “Kinda, sorta, not really.”
“Fayne told the agents that he believed he had the right to use part of the PPP loan proceeds for ‘other business purposes’ and for ‘working capital,’” the court documents state.
He was released on a $10,000 bond Wednesday.