A Georgia man who has appeared in the reality TV series "Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta" is accused of securing a loan designed to help businesses keep employees during the coronavirus crisis and spending the money on himself.
Maurice Fayne, also known as "Arkansas Mo," is alleged to have received more than $2 million from a loan through the federal Paycheck Protection Program and to have used more than $1.5 million to buy jewelry, lease a Rolls-Royce and pay child support, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.
He is facing federal bank fraud charges.
The Paycheck Protection Program was part of the coronavirus relief package called the CARES Act passed by Congress in March and signed into law by President Donald Trump. The program provides forgivable loans to small businesses that keep their employees on the payroll.
Fayne, 37, submitted the loan application on behalf of his company, Flame Trucking, on April 15 and said it would be used to retain workers and complete other business-related actions, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia said in a statement.
Instead, prosecutors allege, he spent $85,000 on jewelry, including a Rolex watch. Prosecutors also claim that he used the funds to lease a 2019 Rolls-Royce Wraith, make loan payments and pay $40,000 in child support.
Fayne declined to comment when reached via phone Wednesday evening and said he would release a statement later.
His attorney did not immediately respond to a voice message and emails sent through her website sent after business hours Wednesday.
Prosecutors say that when federal agents interviewed Fayne on May 6, he said all of the PPP money was used to pay payroll and other business expenses and denied spending any on himself.
"The defendant allegedly stole money meant to assist hard-hit employees and businesses during these difficult times, and instead greedily used the money to bankroll his lavish purchases of jewelry and other personal items," Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian A. Benczkowski said in a statement.
Agents this week seized $503,000 in PPP funds from three bank accounts controlled by Fayne, the U.S. attorney's office said.
The Paycheck Protection Program quickly ran out of money because of heavy demand, and Congress last month approved $320 billion in additional funding for it, which Trump also signed into law.
Problems with the program have been reported; some large businesses and chains got loans, and some have returned the money. The Los Angeles Lakers also got a loan and returned it. New guidance discourages companies that have access to capital from other sources from applying.
Fayne appeared in episodes in last year's season of "Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta."