Former New York Jets wide receiver Joshua Bellamy is accused of taking part in a $24 million fraud scheme that allegedly took loan money meant for businesses as coronavirus relief and using it on 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 release from the U.S. Department of Justice. Bellamy allegedly conspired with others to obtain loans from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for his inactive company, Drip Entertainment, which was then spent on designer goods and at casinos.
Investigators found that Drip Entertainment was registered inactive last year with the state of Florida, but that Bellamy requested loans with falsified documents stating he had $1.5 million of payroll expenses quarterly, according to a criminal complaint.
Drip Entertainment’s loan request was approved around the end of May, the complaint said.
“Specifically, on or about May 28, 2020, Bank 2 wired the loan amount, $1,246,565, into BELLAMY'S personal account, which, at the time, had a balance of only $2.51,” the complaint said.
According to the complaint, an informant told investigators that Bellamy referred him to associates with the intention of creating and submitting additional fraudulent PPP loan. The informant, referred to as CHS 2, alleged that he did prepare fraudulent forms with another bank but that the loan was not approved.
The informant was wired about 25 percent of the approved $1.2 million loan on May 28 and bank records obtained by investigators showed Bellamy had $302,800 in cash withdrawals between then and July 28, the complaint said.
Bank records also showed Bellamy spent tens of thousands at custom jewelers, designer clothing brands such as Gucci, and travel, the complaint said. He allegedly spent more than $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 applications totaling in more than $24 million.
Bellamy was released Thursday on a $250,000 signatory bond and a number of conditions, including seeking or maintaining employment. The 31-year-old athlete was released by the New York Jets on Tuesday and is currently a free agent within the NFL.
Diego Weiner, an attorney for Bellamy, said Thursday that it is early in the case and that he hopes that the public will give Bellamy the benefit of the doubt.
“All too often professional athletes are taken advantage of by people purportedly acting on their behalf as agents or advisors,” Weiner said.
The New York Jets did not immediately respond to a request for comment from NBC News.
The PPP loan program, part of the $2 trillion CARES Act, is meant for qualifying small businesses to receive up to receive $10 million in emergency and forgivable loans due to business impacts from the coronavirus pandemic.
Over $1 billion in emergency coronavirus aid relief likely went to companies who fraudulently obtained funds, according to a preliminary analysis released September 1 by the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis.
The subcommittee found over 10,000 loans in which the borrowers obtained more than one loan. Over 600 loans, for nearly $100 million, went to companies that had been barred or suspended from doing business with the federal government, the analysis found.