Ex-NFL player Bellamy gets 3 years for COVID relief fraud

Ex-NFL player Bellamy gets 3 years for COVID relief fraud
Written by Publishing Team

TAMPA, Florida (AP) – Former NFL player Josh Bellamy has been sentenced to three years and one month in prison for fraud in obtaining more than $1.2 million in COVID-19 relief funds.

Bellamy, 32, of St. Petersburg, Florida, was sentenced Friday in federal court in Tampa, according to court records. He pleaded guilty in June to conspiracy to commit telephone fraud. Besides serving his prison sentence, Bellamy also has to pay reparations.

Bellamy recently played for the New York Jets, who were released from reserve/physically unable to play in September 2020, just days before his arrest. The wide receiver was put on the roster in May of that year, ending his season before it even started. He signed a two-year, $5 million deal with New York in 2019 and played in seven games before sustaining a shoulder injury and being placed on the end-of-season reserve list for injury.

According to court records, Bellamy obtained a $1.2 million Paycheck Protection Program loan for his company, Drip Entertainment LLC, using false documents and false information. Bellamy admitted to using the loan proceeds for personal purposes, such as jewelry and lodging at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. Bellamy also sought loans on behalf of his family members and those close to him.

Prosecutors said Bellamy also told investigators that he paid more than $311,000 in commission to an alleged conspirator, James Stott, for helping him prepare and submit the fraudulent loan application.

As part of the same scheme, a South Florida woman was sentenced Thursday to two years in prison for fraud in obtaining a public-private partnership loan. According to court documents, Yashika Payne, 38, of Miramar, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit internet fraud. Prosecutors said she obtained a $415,232 PPP loan to her company, Microblading Brow Studio LLC, using false documents and false information. She admitted that she paid Stote more than $28,000 in bribes to help him prepare and submit the fraudulent loan application. Also ordered to pay compensation

Stote was indicted in June 2020 for electronic fraud, bank fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud and bank fraud. His case is pending.

Bellamy has 78 career receptions for 1,019 yards and five touchdowns in his eight NFL seasons. He signed with Kansas City as a non-certified free agent from Louisville in 2012. Bellamy spent time with San Diego and Washington before Chicago called for waivers in 2014 and played five seasons with the Bears.

The Paycheck Protection Program represents billions of dollars in small business loans that can be waived for Americans struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, which became federal law in March 2020.


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