Owner of Flame Trucking in Georgia allegedly used PPP loan for jewelry, Rolls-Royce
May 18, 2020
Maurice Fayne, a former reality television personality and owner of Flame Trucking, has been indicted for allegedly using money from the Paycheck Protection Program for personal use, including diamond jewelry and a Rolls-Royce.
On Tuesday, May 12, the U.S. government filed a criminal complaint against Maurice Fayne in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. Fayne, also known as Arkansas Mo in the reality show called “Love & Hip-Hop: Atlanta,” is accused of fraudulently using funds he acquired from the Paycheck Protection Program for a company he owns called Flame Trucking.
According to the complaint, Fayne submitted a PPP loan application to United Community Bank on April 15. Filed under the name of his company Flame Trucking, Fayne told the bank the company has 107 employees. He also stated that the average monthly payroll was nearly $1.5 million. The loan application states that money will be used to “retain workers and maintain payroll or make mortgage interest payments, lease payments, and utility payments, as specified under the Paycheck Protection Program Rule.”
Fayne was initially granted a PPP loan for about $3.7 million on April 22.
Upon finding out the amount exceeded the maximum allowed, the bank recovered a portion of the amount, reducing the total loan to just over $2 million.
Court documents reveal that on April 23, Fayne used Flame Trucking’s PPP loan funds for three wire transfers: $30,000 to D.J., $50,000 to M.S., and $350,000 to C.W. The two lower amounts were payments on other loans.
It was later discovered that Fayne was the “godbrother” of C.W., who was not a Flame Trucking employee. She told investigators that the $350,000 was disbursed according to Fayne’s directions. Investigators found C.W.’s bank records show an $84,000 wire transfer to a jewelry store in Duluth, Ga., for “investment.” Another wire transfer for $40,000 was sent to a woman in Alexander, Ark., for “child support completion.”
Information from the jewelry store obtained by investigators show that Fayne paid more than $85,000 (including the $84,000 wire transfer) for three pieces of jewelry: one custom-made 18-karat Rolex Presidential watch with diamonds ($52,000); one 10-karat custom-made Cuban bracelet with 34.75 carats of diamonds ($24,500); one 14-karat custom-made ring with 5.73 carats of diamonds ($3,750).
Supporting his claim of a nearly $1.5 million monthly payroll, Fayne emailed United Community Bank statements from October through December for Flame Trucking’s account at Arvest Bank. However, Arvest Bank told investigators that Flame Trucking’s account was closed in September 2019. Arvest Bank identified the documents as “not genuine,” according to the complaint.
Court records show that when confronted about the bank statements from Arvest Bank, Fayne denied they were his bank statements. However, he did admit they were sent from his email account to United Community Bank. Fayne said his employees have access to his email account. Furthermore, Fayne said Heartland Payroll Systems, which is identified in those statements, is not the payroll processor for Flame Trucking. When asked who is, Fayne allegedly told investigators he could not remember the name.
In addition to the wire transfers, Fayne withdrew $65,000 from the account that held the PPP loan funds.
On May 6, Fayne told federal agents that he used the PPP funds for payroll and other business expenses. He denied using the money for personal debts and expenses. However, when agents seized the jewelry while executing a search-and-seizure warrant, Fayne admitted to buying the jewelry with PPP loan funds. Court documents claim Fayne told agents he had the right to use the funds for “other business purposes” and for “working capital.” According to the complaint, he said he believes “the jewelry would increase in value because he would be wearing it, which would make it more valuable.”
During the search, agents also found a bag containing $70,000. Fayne claimed the cash was his “personal money,” according to court documents. Additionally, agents discovered more than $9,000 in cash in the pockets of the clothes Fayne was wearing at the time.
Lastly, agents found a 2019 Rolls-Royce Wraith in Fayne’s garage. The car, valued at nearly $400,000, still had a temporary dealer tag. When asked if he used PPP funds to purchase the vehicle, Fayne said “Kinda, sorta, not really.”
Both the Department of Justice news release issued on May 13 and the May 12 criminal complaint identify Flame Trucking in Georgia as the business owned by Fayne to obtain the PPP loan. However, there appears to be little record of Flame Trucking’s existence.
According to court documents, Flame Trucking’s principal office is in Dacula, Ga. The registered address is the same as Fayne’s residence.
However, a search for “Flame Trucking” on FMCSA’s Safety and Fitness Electronic Records system shows three results: one in North Little Rock, Ark.; one in Wylie, Texas; and another in Swainsboro, Ga. None match the address identified in court documents, nor do they include any reference to Fayne.
According to the Georgia Secretary of State’s website, Flame Trucking was formed on April 4, 2019, with the residential address listed as the principal office address. Its business status is labeled as active/compliance. However, a look at the filing history reveals a different address.
According to the original certificate of incorporation, Flame Trucking was established under an address in Lawrenceville, Ga. Quick Transport Solutions has a Flame Trucking listed under that address with DOT number 3304501. However, that DOT number is associated with an inactive Flame Trucking in Wylie, Texas. According to the website, Flame Trucking has been in business since June 26, 2019, with its MCS-150 date listed as Aug. 8, 2019.
When Land Line called the number listed, the man who answered the phone would not identify himself but claimed that Flame Trucking has been operating since April 2019 and is still in operation.
The individual said that Flame Trucking is leased to some of the larger carriers, including J.B. Hunt and Schneider, and that Flame Trucking owns 81 trucks that run flatbed, dry van and reefer interstate. The individual declined to answer questions about the number of employees, DOT number and other specifics about the operation.
A representative from the Georgia Motor Trucking Association could not confirm the existence of Flame Trucking owned by Fayne.
“The particular Flame Trucking you are seeking information on is not a member of GMTA, and as best we can tell does not actually operate,” GMTA chief executive officer Ed Crowell told Land Line in an email. “It appears to be a fiction.”