NFL Player Charged in COVID Relief Scam

Feds say Josh Bellamy received more than $1.2M in the scheme
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 11, 2020 2:00 AM CDT
NFL Player Charged in COVID Relief Scam
In this Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019 file photo, New York Jets wide receiver Josh Bellamy runs a pass route as New England Patriots defensive back Jonathan Jones (31) gives chase in the second half of an NFL football game in Foxborough, Mass.   (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

Former NFL player Josh Bellamy was arrested and charged Thursday with participating in a scheme to file fraudulent applications for more than $24 million in coronavirus relief funds, authorities said. Bellamy, 31, of St. Petersburg, is charged with wire fraud, bank fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, according to court records. At a hearing Thursday afternoon in Tampa federal court, Bellamy was ordered released on $250,000 bond, the AP reports. Bellamy's case will be prosecuted in Fort Lauderdale federal court. Bellamy’s attorney, Diego Weiner, said 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 Bellamy the benefit of the doubt. Eight others from South Florida and two people from northeastern Ohio have been charged in the scheme.

Bellamy most recently played for the New York Jets, who released him from the reserve/physically unable to play list, where he had been placed on May due to a shoulder injury, on Tuesday. According to a criminal complaint, the scheme began with Phillip Augustin, 51, of Coral Springs, using falsified documents to obtain money for his talent management company. Augustin then began to work with Bellamy and others on a scheme to submit numerous fraudulent loan applications for other applicants in order to receive kickbacks for obtaining the forgivable loans, prosecutors said. Bellamy received more than $1.2 million for his own company, Drip Entertainment LLC, prosecutors said. He purchased over $104,000 in luxury goods and spent about $62,774 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, according to the complaint. It adds Bellamy also allegedly sought loans for family members and close associates. (More NFL stories.)

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