Big Freedia, the undisputed queen of bounce music and an actual angel descended from heaven to grace us with her divine presence, will be avoiding jail time and serving three years probation after getting in trouble with the law over her housing situation. Thank the heavens themselves that we are not locking this pure being inside a jail cell!
Freedia found herself in a serious legal situation this year after she pleaded guilty to stealing nearly $35,000 in federal housing voucher money by fraudulently accepting Section 8 vouchers over a period of several years, despite her global success as an artist. Freedia explained the situation in a heartfelt and apologetic statement:
"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 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 … 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 potentially faced up to 10 years in jail time for her crimes. Now, she's being granted a second chance by a judge who offered the artist a stern warning about staying drug-free. "Please do not mistake kindness for weakness," the judge said. "You have the advantage of not only keeping yourself healthy and unaddicted but also acting as a role model for others."
Freedia remained apologetic throughout court proceedings, telling the judge that she was "very embarrassed" by her decision to understate her income. "I am at fault for my criminal conduct," she said.
Defense lawyers also noted Freedia's importance to the community of New Orleands and cited her charitable work with AIDS awareness organizations and upcoming concert planned to raise money for flood relief in Baton Rouge. "Freedia is New Orleans, and she’s determined to make a career here and elsewhere," her attorney, Vinny Mosca, said. "This is very embarrassing for her, so basically it gives her an opportunity now to regroup to show the community that she’s back to help them."
Freedia will remain free. There is hope left in the world.
[Photo: Getty Images]