Ex-New York Jets wide receiver Josh Bellamy was arrested Thursday for his alleged role in a $24 million Covid-19 relief scheme, the U.S. Justice Department announced Thursday.
The complaint says that Bellamy, along with 10 other defendants, allegedly applied for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans via at least 90 fraudulent applications for a total more than $24 million. According to the Justice Department’s release, many of those applications were approved, paying out at least $17.4 million.
For instance, the Justice Department alleges that the 31-year-old former NFL player obtained a $1.2 million PPP loan for his company Drip Entertainment LLC, but used the funds on luxury items and casino trips.
According to the release, Bellamy allegedly purchased over $104,000 in luxury goods at Dior, Gucci and various jewelers with the proceeds of the PPP loan. He also allegedly spent approximately $62,774 of the loan at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. Bellamy allegedly withdrew more than $302,000 in cash.
Additionally, Bellamy allegedly sought PPP loans on behalf of family members and close associates, the release said.
Bellamy was charged with wire fraud, bank fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud in the Southern District of Florida.
Diego Weiner, an attorney for Bellamy, told CNBC Make It that it is still “very early” in the case and Bellamy “is a good and decent man, who is presumed innocent by our laws.”
“We hope that the public will give him the benefit of the doubt at this time. All too often, professional athletes are taken advantage of by people who are purportedly acting on their behalf as agents or advisors. We will all know more as the case progresses,” Weiner said.
Bellamy was released by the New York Jets on Tuesday after a shoulder injury put him on the unable to perform list. According to ESPN, the Jets were unaware of his arrest at the time of the release, a source said.
Bellamy played seven seasons in the NFL. Last year, he signed a two-year, $5 million contract with the Jets.
This story has been updated to include a statement from Bellamy’s attorney Diego Weiner.