A reality TV star is accused of procuring a forgivable loan meant to help small businesses continue paying their employees amid the coronavirus pandemic—and then using the money to buy diamonds and a Rolex, pay child support, and lease a Rolls-Royce. Maurice Fayne, aka "Arkansas Mo" of VH1's Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta, applied for the federal government's Paycheck Protection Program loan for his business, Flame Trucking, and got $2,045,800 in late April, CNN reports. "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," says a prosecutor, per People. Adds a US attorney in a statement, "We will investigate and charge anyone who inappropriately diverts these critical funds for their own personal gain."
Fayne, 37, faces federal bank fraud charges. His lawyer tells CNN, "There has been considerable confusion among small business owners about PPP guidelines—particularly around the question of whether and how business owners are permitted to pay themselves a salary or take an owner's draw. I hope these issues to be better fleshed out in the weeks and months to come." But prosecutors say Fayne initially claimed in an interview that he had used the loan for payroll and business expenses, when in truth he had used $1.5 million of it on personal expenses. He later allegedly said he thought he was allowed to use the funds for "other business purposes" and "working capital." The AP reports that only 38% of small businesses received PPP funds, while about 75% of them applied. The program ran out of money in mid-April. (The Lakers, Ruth's Chris, and Shake Shack all returned their funds from the program.)