March 17, 2016
Only a few weeks after Big Freedia resolved her http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/news/2016/feb/13/hattiesburg-club-owner-accuses-mississippi-jim-cro/">battle with Hattiesburg over a wrongly cancelled performance, which is now back on, the New Orleans hip-hop artist has become embroiled in a battle of a different kind.
On Wednesday, March 16, Freedia pleaded guilty to the theft of about $35,000 in Section 8 low-income housing vouchers from 2010 to 2014, New Orleans TV station http://www.wwltv.com/news/big-freedia-pleads-guilty-to-section-8-theft/85738630">WWL reports. Officials released her on a $25,000 bond, with her sentencing scheduled for Thursday, June 16. Freedia now faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine in addition to the value of the vouchers.
According to WWL reporter David Hammer, federal prosecutors repeatedly referred to Freedia, a prominent member of the LGBTQ community who identifies as a woman, in masculine terms, as her legal name is Freddie Ross Jr.
U.S. District Judge Lance Africk, on the other hand, first asked Freedia how the court should address her and chose to refer to her as "Ms. Ross" despite her statement that she had no preference.
Freedia admitted to the court that from February 2011 to December 2014, she received $695 per month in federal housing vouchers by claiming only $12,000 to $14,400 in assets annually, well below the $21,700 to receive Section 8 assistance.
When Africk asked if Freedia understood that her crime went far beyond financial oversight, she said that she did and accepted full responsibility.
As of press time, Big Freedia hasn't made any statement to suggest that her legal situation will affect her performances at http://www.martinslounge.net/">Martin's Restaurant & Bar in Jackson on Thursday, March 24, and at the https://www.facebook.com/events/1001288043241253/">Dollar Box Showroom in Hattiesburg on Friday, March 25.