Big Freedia pleads guilty to theft in federal court - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports, Social

Big Freedia pleads guilty to theft in federal court

Big Freedia in 2014 (Source: Wikipedia) Big Freedia in 2014 (Source: Wikipedia)
NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) -

New Orleans' "Queen of Bounce" pleaded guilty to theft Wednesday in federal court.

A federal bill of information charged Big Freedia, known in court documents as Freddie Ross Jr., with stealing from the Department of Housing and Urban Development between 2010 and 2014.

Freedia admitted she continued to accept housing assistance even after she started making too much money to be eligible.

Her attorney worked to negotiate a plea deal in which she agreed to pay back almost $35,000.

Following is portion of a statement released by U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite:

ROSS first applied for Section 8 benefits in March 2009.  He listed his monthly income as between $100 and $1,000, and he disclosed no additional assets on his application.  As a result of these representations, ROSS was accepted into the program and began receiving approximately $521 per month for his rental of a residence in New Orleans.

Thereafter, ROSS submitted recertification documents to HANO on a yearly basis through 2014.  HANO relied on ROSS’s representations in the documents to determine whether he continued to qualify for Section 8 benefits.  In his yearly recertification forms, ROSS falsely listed his annual income to be as follows: $0 (2011), $14,400 (2012), $12,000, plus a one-time $2,000 gift from his father (2013), and $12,000 (2014).  ROSS also listed his assets to be as follows: $0 (2011), $100 (2012), $165 (2013), $250 (2014).

In fact, ROSS derived considerable income through his entertainment and music businesses, including payments for performing concerts, starring in television programs, royalties, and the sale of merchandise bearing his likeness.  ROSS failed to disclose this income to HANO, as well as the existence of multiple bank accounts under his name and the name of his several corporate entities.  ROSS’s statements about the amount of his assets constituted material misrepresentations upon which HANO representatives relied to determine his eligibility to receive Section 8 benefits.  ROSS’s true income, had he reported it accurately, would have disqualified him from receiving Section 8 benefits in each year between 2010 and 2014.  In total, as a result of the false representations ROSS made to HANO, he fraudulently received the benefit of Section 8 funds to rent the residences in New Orleans totaling approximately $34,849.00 between about January 2010 and November 2014.

Big Freedia faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, followed by up to three years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine. U.S. District Judge Lance Africk set sentencing for June 16.  

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