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Former NFL player from Florida accused in $24 million COVID-relief fraud scheme

New York Jets wide receiver Josh Bellamy in action before an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
New York Jets wide receiver Josh Bellamy in action before an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke) (Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A former NFL player from Florida has been charged for his alleged participation in a scheme to get more than $24 million in funds meant for COVID-19 relief, according to the Department of Justice.

Josh Bellamy, 31, of St. Petersburg, who previously played for the New York Jets, is accused of wire fraud, bank fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud. Bellamy was arrested Thursday and will appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Christopher Tuite of the Middle District of Florida.

Bellamy allegedly 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, according to DOJ.

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 more than $1.2 million for his own company, Drip Entertainment LLC. Bellamy then allegedly used the money and purchased over $104,000 in luxury goods including purchases at Dior, Gucci, and jewelers, according to DOJ. 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to have spent approximately $62,774 in PPP loan proceeds at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, and to have withdrawn over $302,000.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 complaint alleges that the scheme involved the preparation of at least 90 fraudulent applications, most of which were submitted. Augustin, Bellamy, and other conspirators in the scheme are alleged to have applied for PPP loans that are together worth more than $24 million. Many of those loan applications were approved and funded by financial institutions, paying out at least $17.4 million.

There are 10 other defendants allegedly involved in the scheme whose complaints were previously unsealed.

Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.