USATSI

Josh Bellamy got some bad news earlier this week when the New York Jets announced his release, but now the veteran wide receiver is facing something even more daunting: federal charges. Cut from the Jets’ physically unable to perform list while recovering from a 2019 shoulder injury, the 31-year-old free agent has been charged by U.S. prosecutors for allegedly obtaining more than $1.2 million as part of a COVID-relief fraud scheme.

Arrested on Thursday morning, Bellamy is facing charges of wire fraud, bank fraud and conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud as part of the federal criminal complaint, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. The ninth-year NFL vet allegedly conspired with others to “submit numerous fraudulent” small-business loan applications “in order to receive kickbacks” — or millions of dollars guaranteed by the Small Business Administration under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Bellamy is alleged to have obtained a PPP loan of $1,246,565 for his own company, Drip Entertainment LLC. Bellamy allegedly purchased over $104,000 in luxury goods using proceeds of his PPP loan, including purchases at Dior, Gucci, and jewelers. He is also alleged to have spent approximately $62,774 in PPP loan proceeds at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, and to have withdrawn over $302,000. Bellamy also allegedly sought PPP loans on behalf of his family members and close associates.

Together with co-conspirators, Bellamy’s scheme allegedly sought more than $24 million in total PPP loan relief. Many of those loan applications, per the Department of Justice, received approval and resulted in the distribution of “at least $17.4 million” in funds.

Bellamy, who originally joined the Jets on a two-year deal prior to the 2019 season, was set to appear Thursday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Christopher Tuite of the Middle District of Florida. After short-lived stints with Washington and the Kansas City Chiefs from 2012-13, the receiver spent five years with the Chicago Bears.

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