Ex-NFL Star Josh Bellamy Charged for $1.2M COVID-19 Relief Fraud

Former NFL star Josh Bellamy is accused of fraud. The 31-year-old athlete was arrested on Thursday, September 10 in Florida and charged in a federal criminal complaint with fraud, bank fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud for his alleged role in a $24 million scheme to receive illegal loans intended for coronavirus relief.

The former New York Jets wide receiver allegedly received more than $1.2 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans for his company Drip Entertainment LLC, according to the Justice Department. However, instead of using the fund intended to help struggling businesses survive the coronavirus pandemic for his company, he splashed it on luxury items.

According to officials, Josh spent more than $62,000 in loan money at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Florida. He also is accused of using $95,000 on custom jewelry, $5,381 at Gucci and $2,014 at Dior, in addition to withdrawing more than $302,000.

Ten other defendants were allegedly involved in the scheme. Josh and his co-conspirators allegedly sought more than $24 million in coronavirus relief loans and received "at least $17.4 million" in funds.

Josh was scheduled to appear later on Thursday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Christopher Tuite of the Middle District of Florida.

John's lawyer Diego Weiner asked the public to refrain from judging his client since it's still "very early in the case, and Mr. Bellamy is presumed innocent. I truly hope the public will give him the benefit of the doubt at this time." He went on arguing, "All too often professional athletes are taken advantage of by people purportedly acting on their behalf as agents or advisers."

Josh, who signed a two-year contract with the New York Jets in 2019, is recovering from a shoulder injury. He was placed on the reserve/physically unable to perform list on May 5, 2020, ending his 2020 season. He was released on Tuesday by the Jets, unaware of his fraud charges at the time.

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