Trucking company owner, reality TV star sentenced for PPP loan fraud, Ponzi scheme

Trucking news and briefs for Friday, Sept. 17, 2021:

Reality TV star, trucking company owner sentenced for PPP fraud, Ponzi scheme

Maurice Fayne, who starred in the reality TV series “Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta” and owned Flame Trucking, has been sentenced to more than 17 years in federal prison for conspiracy and wire fraud related to a Ponzi scheme, and for bank fraud and making false statements to a financial institution related to a Paycheck Protection Program loan application.

According to Acting U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine, 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, but 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.

According to Erskine, however, Fayne used the PPP loan proceeds to pay child support and restitution owed in a previous fraud case, buy custom-made jewelry, lease a Rolls-Royce, pay associates who helped him in the Ponzi scheme and start a new business in Arkansas.

Fayne was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Mark H. Cohen to 17 years, six months in prison to be followed by five years of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $4,465,865.55 to the victims. Fayne was convicted on these charges on May 11, 2021, after he pleaded guilty.

Nearly 50 immigrants rescued from tractor-trailer in human smuggling attempt

Border Patrol agents assigned to the Freer Station near Laredo, Texas, rescued almost 50 people who were found during an alleged human smuggling attempt locked inside a trailer near Freer, Texas.

The incident occurred shortly after midnight on Sept. 15, when a tractor-trailer approached the checkpoint on U.S. Highway 59. During primary inspection, a service canine alerted agents to the cargo. The agents then referred the trailer to a secondary inspection for further inspection. 

During the inspection, agents discovered nearly 50 individuals locked inside the trailer, where the interior temperature was more than 90 degrees Fahrenheit. All individuals were in the U.S. illegally and were from the countries of Mexico, Guatemala, and El Salvador.

Rolling Strong supporting St. Christopher Fund initiatives

Rolling Strong, the provider of health and wellness programs for trucking companies and their drivers, as well as owner-operators, announced it is providing participants in the St. Christopher Truckers Relief Fund (SCF) Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) with a free six-month membership to the Rolling Strong app, and it is linking its platform to SCF’s Rigs without Cigs program.

SCF’s DPP was launched in February 2021. Initial participants who have completed the first six months and are now in the maintenance phase for the next six months will receive a free membership to the Rolling Strong App with wellness coaching to support them in maintaining their progress.

The free DPP initiative is an evidence-based lifestyle change program open to all Class A over-the-road drivers at risk for Type 2 diabetes. The year-long program is led by a specially trained lifestyle coach and features webinars focusing on nutrition, exercise, stress management, and more. Eligible drivers who enroll can receive scales, blood pressure cuffs, activity trackers, and resistance bands to help with tracking and success. Participants are required to send reports on weight, blood pressure, and activity.

Rolling Strong is also adding a section to its app referring drivers to the SCF Rigs without Cigs program. The tobacco cessation participation and incentive program, which is open to all OTR drivers with a Class A CDL, provides a variety of rewards for being tobacco free after one month, three months, six months, and one year.