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Atlanta reality TV star charged with misusing relief funds

Entertainment

ATLANTA (AP) — A reality television star who appeared on the show “Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta” was indicted Wednesday for allegedly using coronavirus relief funds intended to help small businesses survive to pay for luxuries such as a Rolls-Royce and custom jewelry, federal officials said.

In a news release, the Department of Justice said Maurice Fayne, 37, was charged with bank fraud, making a false statement to a federally insured financial institution and money laundering.

The charges are related to the Paycheck Protection Program, a federal program designed to help small businesses make ends meet while they were closed or severely restricted because of the coronavirus. He’s also charged with wire fraud in connection with a Ponzi scheme, the release said.

“Despite the difficult times the recent Coronavirus pandemic has caused, the FBI and our federal partners continue to be vigilant in making sure funds provided by programs like PPP are used as intended,” Chris Hacker, the special agent in charge of the Atlanta FBI office, said in the news release.

Fayne, who also goes by the nickname Arkansas Mo on the VH1 reality show, was arrested May 11. According to court records, he’s out on bond. Fayne’s attorney listed on court records did not immediately return a request for comment. Fayne denied in an interview with federal officials that he misused the PPP money, according to the news release.

Federal officials said Fayne posed as the owner of a profitable trucking business from August 2014 through May 2020. But in reality the business never made enough money to cover expenses. Fayne is accused of encouraging people to invest and then using their money to pay for his extravagant lifestyle.

In April 2020, he applied for a $3.7 million PPP loan, saying he had 107 employees at his trucking company, Flame Trucking, and that he’d use the money to pay expenses and retain staff. Instead, federal officials say, he used the money for things like leasing a Rolls-Royce for $136,000, buying $85,000 in custom-made jewelry, and restitution in a previous fraud case.

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