A reality TV star and trucking company owner who “planned to use the PPP program as a cover for his long-running Ponzi scheme” has been sentenced to federal prison.
Maurice Fayne, 38, who starred in the reality TV series “Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta,” was sentenced to 17 years six months in prison, to be followed by five years of supervised release, according to a September 15 news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office Northern District of Georgia.
Fayne has also been ordered to pay $4,465,865.55 in restitution to his victims.
Fayne pleaded guilty on May 11, 2021, to conspiracy and wire fraud related to a Ponzi scheme, and for bank fraud, and making false statements to a financial institution.
“Fayne planned to use the PPP program as a cover for his long-running Ponzi scheme,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine. “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.”
Authorities detailed the scheme:
From March 2013 through May 2020, Fayne ran a multistate Ponzi scheme that defrauded more than 20 people who invested in his trucking business. Fayne promised 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 for himself. During the scheme, 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, falsely claiming that his trucking business had 107 employees and an average monthly payroll of $1,490,200. Fayne promised to use the PPP loan proceeds to retain workers and maintain payroll or make mortgage interest payments, lease payments, and utility payments related to his trucking business. Instead, Fayne used the PPP loan proceeds for improper purposes, including the following:
•$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.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Small Business Administration-Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducted the investigation into the scheme.
“Lying to gain access to SBA’s pandemic response programs is not without consequence,” said SBA OIG’s Eastern Region Special Agent in Charge Amaleka McCall-Brathwaite. “OIG will relentlessly pursue evidence of fraud against SBA’s programs aimed at assisting the nation’s small businesses struggling with the pandemic challenges. I want to thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office for its leadership and dedication to pursuing justice.”