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NFL Player Josh Bellamy Arrested in $24M PPP Loan Scam

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National Football League wide receiver Joshua Bellamy was arrested and charged for his alleged participation in a scheme to file fraudulent loan applications seeking more than $24 million in Paycheck Protection Program loans, with he himself receiving $1.2 million, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

In a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida on Thursday, the former New York Jets player and current free agent was charged with wire fraud, bank fraud, attempt and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud.

From on or about May 21 to at least on or about Aug. 3, Bellamy allegedly participated in a scheme to obtain by fraud more than $24 million in forgivable loans through the PPP and other government programs, conspiring with a person now cooperating with the investigation, referred to in the complaint only as “CHS2,” and others, according the complaint.

Bellamy obtained a fraudulent PPP loan for his own company, Drip Entertainment, with CHS 2 “providing falsified documents and assisting in submitting the application on Defendant’s behalf in exchange for a kickback from the loan proceeds,” according to the complaint.

ln total, bank records showed Bellamy withdrew about $302,800 of the funds he received between May 28 and July 28, according to the complaint.

The bank records also reflected what appeared to be purchases of jewelry and other luxury items totaling more than $100,000, including: A wire transfer of $57,000 to a custom jewelry store; a $38,000 wire transfer to another jewelry store; $5,380 in goods at Gucci; $1,020 at Milano Exchange; and $2,010 at Dior, the complaint alleged.

Bellamy also spent more than $6,630 on transactions with various airlines and about $62,774 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, according to the complaint.

Bellamy also conspired to submit several additional fraudulent PPP loan applications for other companies by “recruiting other confederate loan applicants,” the complaint alleged, adding: “To inflate the size of these PPP loans, and the corresponding kickbacks, the conspirators relied on a variety of false statements, including by submitting falsified bank statements and payroll tax forms.”

For example, the conspirators used almost identical versions of the same fabricated bank statements, “recycled” in the PPP applications for several companies with only minor changes, according to the complaint.

The conspirators planned or prepared at least 90 fraudulent applications, most of which were submitted, the complaint alleged.

Based on the evidence investigators reviewed, CHS 2, Bellamy and their co-conspirators applied for PPP loans that are together worth more than $24 million, with at least about 42 of the loans approved and funded for a total of approximately $17.4 million, according to the complaint.

Certain loan recipients involved in the scheme then wired a kickback of varying amounts, often about 25% of the fraudulent loan proceeds, to an account controlled by CHS 2, the complaint claimed.

Bellamy was arrested Thursday, the Justice Department said while announcing the case against the NFL player. He was scheduled to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Christopher Tuite of the Middle District of Florida in Tampa that same day, the Justice Department said.

The 10 other defendants allegedly involved in the scheme, whose complaints were already unsealed, included residents of Florida and Ohio.