A reality television star from the Atlanta area was sentenced to 17 years in prison for conspiracy and wire fraud related to a Ponzi scheme.
Maurice “Mo” Fayne, 38, of Dacula, Georgia, who starred in “Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta,” was convicted of bank fraud and making false statements to a financial institution related to a fraudulent Paycheck Protection Program loan application, according to a news release issued Wednesday by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia.
According to prosecutors, Fayne ran a Ponzi scheme in several states from 2013 to 2020 that defrauded more than 20 people who invested in his trucking business, the news release stated. Fayne promised the victims that he would use the investors’ money to operate the business. Instead, he used the money to pay his personal debts and expenses and to fund an extravagant lifestyle, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said Fayne spent more than $5 million at a casino in Oklahoma.
In April 2020, Fayne submitted a $3.7 million PPP loan application to United Community Bank, prosecutors said. In his application, Fayne falsely claimed that his trucking business had 107 employees and an average monthly payroll of $1,490,200. According to the application, Fayne promised to use money from the PPP loan to keep workers and meet payroll, the news release stated. He also promised to make mortgage interest payments, lease payments, and utility payments related to his trucking business, prosecutors said.
Instead, Fayne used the PPP loan proceeds for other purposes, including:
- $40,000 for past-due child support;
- $50,000 for restitution owed in a previous fraud case;
- $65,000 in cash withdrawals;
- $85,000 for custom-made jewelry;
- $136,000 to lease a Rolls-Royce;
- $230,000 to associates who helped him run a Ponzi scheme;
- $907,000 to start a new business in Arkansas,
Fayne pleaded guilty to the charges on May 11, 2021.
“Fayne planned to use the PPP program as a cover for his long-running Ponzi scheme,” Acting U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine said in a statement. “The funds the program supplies serve as a lifeline to many businesses desperately trying to stay afloat during the pandemic, and unfortunately his fraud helped deplete those precious dollars.”
Fayne was also ordered to pay $4,465,865.55 in restitution to the victims.
“This sentence should serve notice that the FBI and our federal partners will investigate anyone who misdirects federal emergency assistance earmarked for businesses who need it to stay afloat,” Chris Hacker, special agent in charge of FBI Atlanta, said in a statement. “We won’t tolerate anyone driven by personal greed to pocket American taxpayer money that should be going to those who need it.”
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