For New Orleans natives, Big Freedia has always been a big deal as the undisputed queen of bounce music. However, it’s only been in recent years that millions of other music fans across the nation have come to know, Freedia thanks to his reality TV show and high-octane music performances. With his popularity still on the rise, many would expect Freedia to be rolling in money. However, media reports have revealed that Freedia is now in trouble with the law for lying in order to get Section 8 vouchers.
According to media reports, Freedia was recently charged with stealing more than a $1,000 worth of Section 8 vouchers by the U.S. Attorney’s Office from 2010 to 2014, when his income exceeded the federal subsidized housing limit. Despite only being charged for $1,000 worth of vouchers, Freedia says that the actual value is $34,000.
The time frame coincides with Freedia’s rise to fame, which kicked into high gear in 2013 when his reality series, “Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce,” launched on Fuse. His fame recently reached even greater heights when Beyoncé featured him on her new hit song, “Formation.”
It’s expected that Freedia will plead guilty to the charges and yesterday he released a statement explaining that he didn’t intentionally lie to the government. Instead, he says that he simply didn’t know how to manage his new fortune and properly transition out of the federal assistance program.
“This is an incredibly unfortunate situation,” Freedia said in an emailed statement. “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.”
Freedia explained that he’s already begun to pay restitution to the government and that he wants his mistakes to be used as a lesson to others about proper financial literacy.
“Housing vouchers are a vital lifeline for many people I know in New Orleans and around the country, including struggling artists,” Freedia said in his statement. “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.”
Although Freedia is optimistic about the outcome of the charge, he is currently facing up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if he’s convicted of the crime. He also faces forfeiture of property equivalent to the amount of the vouchers received.
Freedia’s first day in court is reportedly set for March 16, but since it’s expected that he’ll plead guilty, it’s likely that the judge will issue a ruling soon.