Ex-Bear Bellamy charged in COVID relief fraud scheme originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
Former Bears wide receiver Josh Bellamy was arrested Wednesday and charged with wire fraud, bank fraud, and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud for his alleged participation in a scheme to fraudulently obtain millions of dollars from the Paycheck Protection Program.
From the Justice Department’s criminal complaint against Bellamy:
The complaint alleges that Bellamy conspired with others to obtain millions of dollars in fraudulent PPP loans. Early in the scheme, Phillip J. Augustin allegedly obtained a fraudulent PPP loan for his talent management company using falsified documents. After submitting that application, Augustin then began to work with other co-conspirators, including Bellamy, on a scheme to submit numerous fraudulent PPP loan applications for confederate loan applicants, in order to receive kickbacks for obtaining the forgivable loans for them.
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to have spent approximately $62,774 in PPP loan proceeds at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, and to have withdrawn over $302,000.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.
The PPP program was set up under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act to incentivize small businesses to keep their employees on payroll amid losses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bellamy was released by the New York Jets Sept. 8 after being placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list prior to training camp. He signed a two-year, $5 million contract with the Jets in 2019 after spending five seasons with the Bears, primarily as a special teamer and backup receiver.
The 31-year-old Bellamy caught 79 passes in his career for 1,053 yards with five touchdowns and 13 drops.