Legendary New Orleans bounce artist Big Freedia, who recently collaborated with Beyoncé on her song “Formation,” has been charged with stealing government funds, according to NOLA.com. The indictment filed against Freedia accused her of stealing $1,000 from the Department of Housing and Urban Development from 2010 to 2014. The documents claim that she lied about her income during that time period in order to stay in subsidized housing.
The felony charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, though Freedia's lawyer, Tim Kappel told NOLA that he doesn't expect his client to face any jail time. In a statement released by Freedia, she called the situation “incredibly unfortunate” and that it was an oversight by her. Kappel also told NOLA that he's trying to work out a plea deal for Freedia in the case, and it could include contributing money to some non-profit organizations in the community. You can read Freedia's full statement on the situation below.
“This is an incredibly unfortunate situation. I was on subsidized housing for many years before my financial situation changed. I quickly found myself in a new economic structure and, frankly, knew little about how to handle my money. It wasn’t until recently (after I had stopped receiving housing vouchers) that it became very clear I had received assistance to which I wasn’t entitled. It was an oversight—but one that I take full responsibility for. From the moment I was contacted by Government agents, I have fully cooperated and have already begun making arrangements to pay full restitution (of approximately $34,000).
“Housing vouchers are a vital lifeline for many people I know in New Orleans and around the country, including struggling artists. I truly believe there needs to be more programs for artists and musicians to teach basic financial literacy and planning. Coming from where I came from, I know that I could have used that kind of assistance. I’m exploring ways to be a part of the solution in this area and am looking forward to putting this matter behind me.”