NFL player arrested for coronavirus loan fraud, authorities say

Josh Bellamy charged with wire fraud and bank fraud, records show

Louise Hall
Friday 11 September 2020 19:00
Josh Bellamy was charged on Thursday with wire fraud
Josh Bellamy was charged on Thursday with wire fraud
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Former NFL player Josh Bellamy has been arrested and charged with participating in a scheme to fraud a coronavirus relief fund, officials have said.

Mr Bellamy, 31, of St Petersburg, Florida, was charged on Thursday with wire fraud, bank fraud, and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, according to court records.

The scheme that Mr Bellamy is accused of having participated in allegedly filed fraudulent applications for more than $24m in coronavirus relief funds provided by the government.

According to prosecutors, Bellamy received more than $1.2m for his own company, Drip Entertainment LLC and allegedly purchased over $104,000 in luxury goods and spent about $62,774 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.

Mr Bellamy’s attorney, Diego Weiner, told The Associated Press it’s common for professional athletes to be taken advantage of by people who are supposed to be representing their best interests, and he hopes the public will give Mr Bellamy the benefit of the doubt.

The scheme began under a man named Phillip Augustin, 51, of Coral Springs who used falsified documents to obtain money for his own company and then began working with others, according to a criminal complaint. In total, 11 people have been charged in connection to the scheme.

Mr Bellamy was released on $250,000 bond at a hearing on Thursday in Tampa federal court. The case will be prosecuted in Fort Lauderdale federal court.

The former NFL player most recently played for the New York Jets, but was placed on their injured reserve list after injuring a shoulder in May. He signed a two-year deal worth $5m with New York in 2019, but was released from the teams reserve list on Tuesday. 

Mr Bellamy signed with Kansas City as an undrafted free agent out of Louisville in 2012,  and spent time with San Diego and Washington before being claimed off waivers by Chicago in 2014 and playing five seasons with the Bears.

The Paycheck Protection Program which Mr Bellamy allegedly frauded, offers forgivable small business loans for Americans struggling due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press

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