Josh Bellamy spent a PPP loan at the casino, Justice Department says
Posted on: September 11, 2020, 6:00 a.m.
Last update on: September 11, 2020, 10:14 a.m.
The US Department of Justice has accused former New York Jets wide receiver Josh Bellamy of participating in a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) fraud scheme. The government alleges it spent money intended for troubled businesses in a casino, among other fraudulent uses.
Authorities arrested Bellamy, 31, on Thursday and charged him with wire fraud, bank fraud and conspiracy to commit both wire fraud and bank fraud, according to a press release from the Ministry of Justice.
PPP funds spent at casino, jewelers
According to a criminal complaint filed in the Southern District of Florida, Bellamy conspired with others to fraudulently acquire more than $ 24 million in P3 loans, ultimately securing approval of at least $ 17.4 million. Bellamy is said to have secured a loan of $ 1,246,565 for his company, Drip Entertainment LLC, on May 28. A financial institution – identified only as “Bank 2” – transferred the money to Bellamy’s personal account, which contained less than three dollars.
The complaint alleges that he spent approximately $ 62,774 of this loan at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida. Florida’s Seminole Tribe closed all of its state casinos in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but reopened them in mid-June.
The Justice Department also alleges that Bellamy spent more than $ 104,000 on various luxury goods from Dior, Gucci, Milano Exchange and several jewelers from late May to July. Officials say Bellamy withdrew more than $ 300,000 in funds and also gave a co-conspirator a quarter of the loan approved on May 28.
Bellamy played eight seasons in the NFL. He signed with the Kansas City Chiefs as an undrafted free agent in 2012 after playing college football at Butte Community College and Louisville. After spending a year with the Chiefs and another with Washington, he spent five years with the Chicago Bears.
Bellamy played sparingly for the Jets in 2019
Most recently, Bellamy played for the New York Jets in the 2019 season. On Tuesday, the Jets released Bellamy, who the team had placed on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list as he recovered from a shoulder injury. ESPN cited a source who said the Jets were unaware of the arrest when they released Bellamy, although a New York Post source claimed that the release was made in anticipation of the charges.
Bellamy played 82 games in his NFL career, catching 78 passes for 1,019 yards while scoring five touchdowns. He had only caught two balls over 20 yards with the Jets, making the release a minor move from a football standpoint.
The federal government made PPP loans available under the CARES law promulgated on March 29. Under this program, eligible small businesses can receive low-interest loans, which are written off completely if a business spends the funds on salary costs and certain other expenses. Many gaming-related companies have taken advantage of PPP loans, including card rooms in California to small gaming taverns in Montana.