A star on VH1’s “Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta” allegedly scammed the federal government’s coronavirus loan program out of more than $2 million — and blew much of the cash on jewelry and child support payments, authorities said Wednesday.
Maurice “Mo” Fayne — who appeared in the reality-TV show’s eighth season — made his first court appearance Wednesday in Georgia on federal bank fraud charges, according to the US Department of Justice.
Fayne, 37, applied for a Payment Protection Program loan for a corporation called Flame Trucking on April 15, saying he needed the money to pay employees and for other business expenses.
Instead, he spent much of the $2,045,800 cash infusion to splurge on himself, federal prosecutors alleged.
Within days, he allegedly squandered $85,000 in jewelry — including a Rolex Presidential watch, a diamond bracelet, a 5.73 carat diamond ring. He also spent $40,000 for child support, the prosecutors said.
When federal agents interviewed him on May 6, Fayne denied the allegations.
But a search of his home in Dacula on Monday turned up about $80,000 in cash, including $9,400 that Fayne had in his pockets, and the jewelry he allegedly purchased with the PPP funds.
Agents also found a 2019 Rolls-Royce Wraith, which still had a temporary dealer tag on it. And they seized about $503,000 in PPP funds from three of Fayne’s bank accounts.
“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,” said assistant attorney general Brian A. Benczkowski in a statement.
The Department of Justice has launched an investigation into the $670 billion program set up to help small businesses struggling amid the coronavirus pandemic. It filed charges last week against two other people who allegedly scammed the program.
The Trump administration has also pledged to review all loans larger than $2 million, amid outcry over big companies like Shake Shack and the Los Angeles Lakers getting help.