New Orleans bounce queen Big Freedia has been charged with theft of government funds, reports the AP. The reality star (née Freddie Ross Jr.) allegedly misreported her earnings between 2010 and 2014 in order to receive money from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and continue living in subsidized housing. In a statement to Pitchfork, Freedia has taken “full responsibility” for the theft and called for better financial literacy for musicians:
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.
Freedia, who was recently featured on Beyoncé’s “Formation,” is scheduled to appear in court on March 16.