NFL wide receiver Joshua Bellamy has been charged with allegedly taking part in a fraudulent scheme to receive loans intended for COVID-19 relief, the U.S. Justice Department announced Thursday.
The Justice Department alleges that Bellamy — who was a member of the New York Jets until Wednesday — received a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan for more than $1.2 million, which was supposed to be for his company, Drip Entertainment, LLC.
Bellamy, 31, was arrested Thursday morning. He was slated to appear later in the day before U.S. Magistrate court in the Middle District of Florida.
The Justice Department report indicates that Bellamy spent more than $104,000 in luxury goods, which included purchases at Dior, Gucci and various jewelers. Bellamy also is accused of spending more than $62,000 in PPP loan money at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino and withdrawing more than $302,000.
This was part of a more widespread fraud, the department said, with Bellamy also allegedly securing PPP loans on behalf of family members and close associates. Ten other defendants were named in the allegations, with total PPP loan fraud estimated to be more than $24 million. None of the other alleged co-conspirators played in the NFL.
In March, the CARES Act was enacted to provide emergency financial assistance to millions of Americans who were suffering economically amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
It authorized up to $349 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses through PPP loans at low interest rates. Those loans must be used by businesses for specific costs — payroll, interest on mortgages, rent and utilities.
The Jets released Bellamy from the reserve/PUP list Tuesday. He suffered a shoulder injury this offseason before being placed on the list.
Bellamy entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2012. He played in eight seasons, primarily with the Kansas City Chiefs, Chicago Bears and Jets. The Jets had signed Bellamy in 2019 to a two-year deal worth $5 million. He played seven games with the Jets, mostly on special teams, catching two passes for 20 yards last season.