It began more than nine years ago with “Love & Hip Hop: New York.” VH-1’s reality TV show revolved around a cast of hip hop and R&B performers, musicians, managers and producers. The show that launched in early 2011 was a hit, spawning several spin-offs in Hollywood, Miami and Atlanta.
A few days ago, one of the stars of the Atlanta franchise – Maurice Fayne (also known as Arkansas Mo) – was arrested and charged with bank fraud.
The Department of Justice alleges that Fayne received a loan from the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program – part of the stimulus program designed to help small businesses survive the economic difficulties of the pandemic.
Details of the loan
The DOJ claims as the sole owner of Flame Trucking, Fayne applied for a PPP loan of $3,725,500 to be used to “retain workers and maintain payroll or make mortgage interest payments, lease payments, and utility payments.” He stated on the loan application that his company – a freight shipping and trucking firm – had 107 employees and that its monthly payroll was $1,490,200.
While he did not receive the full amount he had sought, Fayne and Flame Trucking received a loan of $2.045,800. According to federal prosecutors, “within days” of receiving the loan, Fayne went on a spending spree that included the purchase of a Rolex Presidential watch, a 5.73 carat diamond ring, and other jewelry. He is also accused of using the business loan funds to make a child support payment of $40,000.
In the first week of May, the reality TV star was contacted by FBI agents, allegedly telling them that he had used the loan funds to pay business expenses, including payroll. He said he had not used the money for personal expenses or debt.
A few days later, federal agents searched his home and seized about $80,000 in cash, as well as the approximately $85,000 worth of jewelry allegedly purchased with the PPP. Agents reported that they “discovered a 2019 Rolls-Royce Wraith” at the home.
According to CNN, the arrest affidavit says when asked whether he has used PPP money to lease the vehicle, Fayne allegedly said, “Kinda, sorta, not really.” He also reportedly said he believed he could use the funds for “other business purposes” and for “working capital.”
Exercising your rights
It would have made more sense for him to have contacted his attorney before answering questions, so that his rights would have been protected and he could have avoided making any incriminating statements. Far too often, people believe that they can simply explain matters to FBI or other law enforcement officers, when in reality they are actually complicating matters.
In other words, it’s better to make use of your right to be silent. Wait to talk until after you’ve spoken with a criminal defense attorney.