NFL player accused of fraud, spending coronavirus relief funds on casinos and on jewelry

Former New York Jets wide receiver Joshua Bellamy is accused of participating in a $ 24 million fraud scheme that allegedly took loan money intended for businesses as coronavirus relief and used it for personal expenses.

Bellamy, 31, was arrested Thursday and charged with wire fraud, bank fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Justice. Bellamy allegedly conspired with others to obtain Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans for his inactive business, Drip Entertainment, which was then spent on designer goods and in casinos.

Investigators discovered that Drip Entertainment was registered inactive last year with the State of Florida, but Bellamy applied for loans with forged documents indicating he had salary expenses of $ 1.5 million per quarter. , according to a criminal complaint.

Drip Entertainment’s loan application was approved in late May, according to the complaint.

“Specifically, on or around May 28, 2020, Bank 2 transferred the loan amount, $ 1,246,565, to BELLAMY’s personal account, which at the time had a balance of only $ 2.51. », Indicates the complaint.

According to the complaint, an informant told investigators that Bellamy referred him to associates with the intention of creating and submitting an additional fraudulent PPP loan. The informant, called CHS 2, alleged that he prepared fraudulent forms with another bank, but the loan was not approved.

The informant received about 25% of the approved loan of $ 1.2 million on May 28, and bank records obtained by investigators showed Bellamy made cash withdrawals of $ 302,800 between that date and July 28. , according to the complaint.

Bank records also showed Bellamy spent tens of thousands of dollars on custom jewelers, designer clothing brands such as Gucci and travel, according to the complaint. He reportedly spent over $ 60,000 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.

Federal prosecutors allege that Bellamy was part of a widespread scheme that included 90 fraudulent claims totaling more than $ 24 million.

Bellamy was released Thursday on $ 250,000 bail and a number of conditions, including finding or maintaining employment. The 31-year-old athlete was released by the New York Jets on Tuesday and is currently a free agent in the NFL.

Diego Weiner, an attorney for Bellamy, said Thursday he was early in the case and hoped the public would give Bellamy the benefit of the doubt.

“Too often, professional athletes are exploited by people purportedly acting on their behalf as agents or advisers,” Weiner said.

The New York Jets did not immediately respond to an NBC News request for comment.

The PPP Loan Program, which is part of the $ 2 trillion CARES Act, is intended to enable eligible small businesses to receive up to $ 10 million in emergency loans and remittances due to business impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

More than $ 1 billion in emergency coronavirus aid likely went to companies that fraudulently obtained funds, according to one preliminary analysis released on September 1 by the House subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis.

The subcommittee found over 10,000 loans in which borrowers obtained more than one loan. More than 600 loans, worth nearly $ 100 million, have been made to companies that had been banned or suspended from doing business with the federal government, according to the analysis.

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