Former New York Jets wide receiver Joshua J. Bellamy was arrested in Florida today and charged for his alleged participation in a scheme to file fraudulent loan applications seeking more than $24 million in forgivable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and for fraudulently obtaining a $1.2 million loan for his business, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Bellamy was charged with wire fraud and bank fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud in a federal criminal complaint filed in the Southern District of Florida.
Bellamy is accused of working with 10 named co-conspirators to submit at least 90 fraudulent loan applicants in exchange for kickbacks.
Many of the loan applications were approved and funded by financial institutions, which paid out at least $17.4 million.
Bellamy is accused of fraudulently obtaining a $1.25 million PPP loan for his reportedly inactive company Drip Entertainment and spending more than $104,000 on jewelry and luxury goods and $62,774 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.
Bellamy’s phone call conversation with an undercover agent posing as a co-conspirator confirmed he knowingly participated in a fraud, according to the complaint.
Bellamy’s attorney Diego Weiner told the New York Times he hopes the public will give Bellamy “the benefit of the doubt” adding, “all too often professional athletes are taken advantage of by people purportedly acting on their behalf as agents or advisers.”
Ballamy was released from the Jets on Tuesday. He signed a two-year deal in 2019 and played in seven games before injuring a shoulder and being placed on the season-ending injured reserve list. He had played for the Chicago Bears from 2014 to 2018.
The PPP loan, created as part of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act, has received widespread criticism. There have been complaints about banks prioritizing big customers, favoring companies with ties to the Trump Administration and giving money to large companies, some of whom returned it after facing backlash. Following weeks of requests for transparency on who got funding, the Trump administration released the names of companies that received PPP loans of $150,000 or more in July. Forbes found at least 51 companies backed by 18 billionaires that received loans designed to help small businesses stay afloat during the pandemic. Borrowers include Kanye West’s apparel brand Yeezy, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice’s Greenbrier hotel and resort, and Florida-based auto dealership Braman Motorcars, owned by billionaire Norman Braman.
Disclosure: Forbes Media LLC confirmed on July 6, 2020 that it received a Paycheck Protection Program loan of $5 million to $10 million on April 15.
Kanye West, West Virginia’s Governor Jim Justice And 16 Other Billionaires’ Businesses Got PPP Loans (Forbes)