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Feds: NFL player charged in $24 million COVID-19 relief fraud scheme

Officials say Joshua J. Bellamy, 31, fraudulently received $1.2 million in a PPP loan.

WASHINGTON — Dior, Gucci, luxury jewelers, and dropping nearly $63K at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino -- that's what officials with the Department of Justice say one NFL player spent his fraudulently obtained PPP loan funds on.

Joshua J. Bellamy, 31, of St. Petersburg is accused of participating in a larger fraud scheme to obtain COVID-19 relief funds totaling to $24 million.

Bellamy, along with others, is said to have planned or prepared at least 90 fraudulent applications seeking Paycheck Protection Program loans and other government program assistance made available to those impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Of those applications, 42 were approved and funded approximately $17.4 million, according to a release. Bellamy allegedly secured $1,246,565 of the loans for his own company, Drip Entertainment LLC. 

But he wasn't alone, according to officials; ten other people have been caught and charged. A majority of those involved live across Florida, with two being from Ohio. 

A criminal complaint shows to receive the loans, those involved submitted falsified bank statements and payroll tax forms but didn't bother to make too many changes. "The conspirators used nearly identical versions of the same fabricated bank statements, recycled in the PPP applications for multiple companies with minor changes," a complaint states.

In addition to the luxury goods, a release said Bellamy withdrew more than $302 thousand in fraudulent funds and attempted to seek out PPP loans on behalf of his family members and close associates.

Bellamy was arrested Thursday and is charged with wire fraud, bank fraud, and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud. He was set to appear before a Middle District of Florida judge this morning.

The release does highlight that the complaint against Bellamy is "merely an accusation" at this time and he is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Bellamy currently plays for the New York Jets after joining the team last season. As of September 10, Bellamy is not listed on the team's current roster but is rather on the team's reserve/physically unable to perform list

Multiple agencies across Florida and Ohio came together to investigate this case. Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or report online here.

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