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    Joshua Bellamy, Ex-Jet, Fraudulently Took $1.2 Million in Covid-19 Aid, U.S. Says

    A wide receiver who was cut from the New York Jets on Tuesday has been charged with fraudulently obtaining a $1.2 million loan from the Paycheck Protection Program and using the proceeds to buy luxury goods, prosecutors said on Thursday.

    The former player, Joshua J. Bellamy, 31, was charged with wire fraud, bank fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, prosecutors said. He was arrested on Thursday morning and was to appear later Thursday in federal court in Florida.

    Mr. Bellamy, of St. Petersburg, Fla., signed with the Jets in 2019 but was shelved with a shoulder injury in March after playing in seven games. He was cut from the team on Tuesday, according to a Jets spokesman. He had played for the Chicago Bears from 2014 to 2018.

    Diego Weiner, Mr. Bellamy’s lawyer, said it was “very early in the case, and Mr. Bellamy is presumed innocent.”

    “I truly hope the public will give him the benefit of the doubt at this time,” Mr. Weiner said. “All too often professional athletes are taken advantage of by people purportedly acting on their behalf as agents or advisers.”

    In a federal complaint, prosecutors said that Mr. Bellamy had taken part in a scheme with 10 other defendants to file fraudulent loan applications seeking more than $24 million. Many of those loan applications were approved and funded by financial institutions, paying out at least $17.4 million, prosecutors said.

    Mr. Bellamy became involved, prosecutors said, after another person, Phillip J. Augustin, obtained a fraudulent loan for his talent management company using falsified documents.

    Mr. Augustin, 51, of Coral Springs, Fla., was charged in July with wire fraud, bank fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, and obstruction, prosecutors said.

    After submitting his loan application, Mr. Augustin, seeking kickbacks, began to work with Mr. Bellamy and others to submit numerous fraudulent loan applications, prosecutors said.

    The complaint says that the scheme involved the preparation of at least 90 fraudulent applications, most of which were submitted.

    Prosecutors said Mr. Bellamy had obtained a Paycheck Protection Program loan of $1.25 million for his own company, Drip Entertainment L.L.C., which he used to buy more than $104,000 in luxury goods from Dior, Gucci and other merchants.

    Mr. Bellamy also spent $62,774 in loan proceeds at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, prosecutors said.

    Ten people have been charged in the scheme, in addition to Mr. Bellamy, prosecutors said.

    The federal government created the Paycheck Protection Program in March as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, which was enacted to prevent large-scale job losses as the coronavirus pandemic gripped the United States, forcing businesses to close.

    The loans could be forgiven if the funds were used to cover payroll and certain other expenses.


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