Sir Maejor Page pleads not guilty on wire fraud and money laundering charges
Page will also be required to forfeit hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and property related to the charges.
TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Sir Maejor Page, a well-known activist and agitator in the Toledo area, has been officially indicted on charges of money laundering and wire fraud stemming from a September arrest.
Page entered a not guilty plea on all charges on Wednesday. His bond was continued and the date for his next court appearance was not immediately listed.
He is accused of receiving donations through a Facebook page for Black Lives Matter of Greater Atlanta which Page allegedly used to purchase a home in Toledo, along with a number of other expensive personal items. He was arrested during an FBI raid on that Toledo home, and appeared in U.S. District Court later that day.
The official indictment, filed on March 11, 2021, charges Page with three counts of money laundering and one count of wire fraud. It also allows the federal government to seize hundreds of thousands of dollars from Page in forfeitures, including more than $250,000 in cash from a Bank of America account in the name of Black Lives Matter of Greater Atlanta, along with properties on Glenwood and Maplewood Avenues in Toledo. These forfeitures, according to the indictment, account for properties derived from the commission of the indicted offenses.
“It is our sincere hope that these charges help raise awareness about online scams and efforts by some to exploit the name and purpose of non-profit organizations for personal gain,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Bridget M. Brennan in a release sent to the media.
In addition to the forfeitures, the charges also carry hefty potential prison sentences (between 10-20 years in jail, and fines between $250,000-500,000 each at maximum). During Page’s initial arraignment in September, the US Attorney indicated the recommended sentences would likely be lower.
Along with the charges, the indictment also outlines the scope of the FBI’s investigation into Page and his activities with Black Lives Matter of Greater Atlanta, including the evidence presented to the grand jury. Those activities were originally outlined in a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court ahead of his arrest. According to those documents, Page created a Facebook page for the organization in February of 2016 and registered as a non-profit corporation with the Georgia Secretary of State’s office, after which the IRS approved the organization’s tax-exempt status as a 501(c)(3) non-profit. The organization was also recognized as a non-profit by Facebook which allowed them to accept donations through the Facebook page.
That non-profit status was revoked by the IRS in May 2019 due to failure to submit a form for three consecutive years. Similar failure to filed paperwork also resulted in the dissolution of the non-profit by the Georgia Secretary of State’s office. According to the court documents, Page did not notify Facebook of the change in status and continued to accept donations through the page’s Donate button.
In a section titled “Scheme to Defraud,” the documents allege that from May 2020 through his arrest in September, Page intentionally defrauded donors to Black Lives Matter of Greater Atlanta to the tune of more than $450,000. Prosecutors allege that he did so by making promises that donations to the organization would be used to combat racial and social injustices in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and instead using those donations for his own personal benefit.
The documents go on to outline a series of expenditures in both Ohio and Georgia, including purchases at hotels, retail stores, and Tower’s Armory, as well as in the purchase of two pieces of property (a house on Glenwood Ave and the adjoining vacant lot on Maplewood Ave) in Toledo. According to the documents, Page attempted to conceal the purchase of the property by titling it to “Hi Frequency Ohio” and requesting the seller’s realtor sign a non-disclosure agreement preventing them from disclosing the true buyer.
“Page is accused of using unprecedented tensions and uncertainty due to widespread civil unrest and a global pandemic to fill his own bank account,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric B. Smith. “Page allegedly purchased homes, traveled, and spent other people’s money to buy luxury items for himself, all on the backs of hardworking people believing they were donating to a worthy cause. The FBI will continue efforts to root out fraudsters who victimize our fellow citizens for personal gain.”
Since his initial court appearance in September, Page has been released pending trial on a $10,000 unsecured bond. In addition to the bond, Page agreed to a series of restrictions, including an order not to use Facebook, engage in fundraising activities, or to open any bank account or line of credit -- without written permission from the court -- for the duration of the proceedings. An arraignment has been set for March 17.
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