Joshua Bellamy, ex-Jet, sentenced to 3 years of Covid-19 aid regime

Former New York Jets receiver who fraudulently obtained over $ 1.2 million in Covid-19 relief funds and spent tens of thousands of dollars on luxury items has been sentenced to over three years out of jail, federal prosecutors said.

Former NFL player Joshua J. Bellamy, 32, of St. Petersburg, Fla., Pleaded guilty in June to conspiring to commit wire fraud.

Prosecutors for the South Florida District Attorney’s Office said Mr. Bellamy obtained a $ 1.2 million Paycheck Protection Program loan for his company, Drip Entertainment LLC, using bogus information. They say he used the loan proceeds on personal items, including more than $ 104,000 in luxury goods from Dior, Gucci and other merchants, and over $ 63,000 in purchases at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. in Hollywood, Florida.

In a federal court hearing in Fort Lauderdale on Friday, Mr Bellamy was sentenced to 37 months in prison for conspiracy and was also sentenced to three years on probation and to pay $ 1.2 million in restitution and $ 1.2 million in forfeiture, according to a statement by federal prosecutors.

Phone and email messages left with Mr. Bellamy’s attorney Monday evening asking for comment were not immediately returned.

A federal complaint against Mr Bellamy detailed text messages, bank statements and statements prosecutors said they made during an August 2020 phone call with an undercover agent posing as an associate of a conspirator in the stratagem.

During the call, the agent said he could help Mr. Bellamy write off his loan and get a second loan.

When the agent asked Mr. Bellamy how he spent his loan, Mr. Bellany replied that he wired money, took out money and “bought stuff” for his artists who “made videos. and stuff like that, ”the complaint states.

At the end of the call, Mr Bellamy said he had other people to recommend for Paycheck Protection Program loans, including his girlfriend, mother and brother, prosecutors said. .

Mr. Bellamy signed with the Jets in 2019 but was sidelined with a shoulder injury in March 2020 after playing seven games. He was kicked out of the team in September 2020, the same week he was arrested on charges against him, according to a Jets spokesperson. He had played for the Chicago Bears from 2014 to 2018.

The program in which Mr. Bellamy obtained a loan for his business was part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. The federal government, wanting to get the relief money fast, gave up much of the verification lenders traditionally do on business loans, but the absence of these standards meant fraud was very likely.

An academic article published in August by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin estimated that about 1.8 million of the program’s 11.8 million loans – over 15% – totaling $ 76 billion had at least one indication of potential fraud.

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