A reality TV star who received over $2 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) money to allegedly pay trucking company employees has been arrested on federal bank fraud charges.
Maurice “Mo” Fayne, known as “Arkansas Mo” and a frequent guest on “Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta,” applied for a PPP loan as the sole owner of a Georgia corporation called Flame Trucking, according to federal authorities in Georgia.
Fayne, 37, made an initial appearance Wednesday before a U.S. magistrate judge.
Fayne’s PPP application, submitted on April 15 requesting a loan of $3.73 million, stated that his business had 107 employees and an average monthly payroll of $1.49 million. He certified that the proceeds would be used to “retain workers and maintain payroll or make mortgage interest payments, lease payments, and utility payments,” as specified under the PPP.
Within days of his loan getting funding by United Community Bank (UCB) for $2.05 million, Fayne allegedly used part of the proceeds to buy $85,000 in jewelry — including a Rolex watch, a diamond bracelet and a 5.73-carat diamond ring — and to pay $40,000 in child support.
“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,” said Chris Hacker of the FBI’s Atlanta Field Office in a statement on Wednesday. “The FBI and our federal partners remain vigilant during this Coronavirus pandemic to make sure funds provided by programs like PPP are used as intended.”
Fayne was interviewed by federal agents on May 6 and admitted to applying for the loan on behalf of Flame Trucking but claimed he had used it on the company’s payroll and other business expenses.
A search of Fayne’s residence in Dacula, Georgia, on Monday, however, resulted in approximately $80,000 in cash being seized, including $9,400 that Fayne had in his pockets along with the jewelry he purchased with the PPP funds, according to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). Agents also executed seizure warrants for three bank accounts that Fayne owned or controlled and seized approximately $503,000 in PPP funds, DOJ noted.
Forgivable loans through the PPP, administered by the U.S Small Business Administration, started out with $350 billion in the CARES Act signed by President Donald Trump in late March and were reupped in April with an additional $320 billion. The loans are meant to help keep solvent small businesses getting hammered by the effects of COVID-19.
FreightWaves was recently informed that pent-up demand for PPP loans includes “thousands” of owner-operator applications seeking funds.