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NFL wide receiver charged with spending COVID-19 relief funds on 'luxury items'

NFL wide receiver charged with spending COVID-19 relief funds on 'luxury items'
Posted at 11:10 AM, Sep 11, 2020

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – An NFL wide receiver has been charged in connection with an alleged scheme to file “fraudulent loan applications” to get COVID-19 relief money from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

Joshua Bellamy, 31, is facing federal charges for wire fraud, bank fraud, and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud. According to the U.S. Justice Department, the former Bears receiver conspired with others to get millions of dollars in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, which he then spent on luxury items.

The DOJ said in a press release that Bellamy applied for an received a PPP loan of more than $1.24 million for his company, Drip Entertainment LLC. Bellamy then allegedly spent more than $104,000 in luxury goods from Dior, Gucci and retail jewelers “using proceeds of his PPP loan,” DOJ said in a press release.

Bellamy is also accused of spending more than $62,000 in PPP loan proceeds at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino and withdrew more than $302,000, the DOJ alleges.

Bellamy is a native of St. Petersburg, Florida and played collegiately at Louisville. Though he went undrafted, he eventually caught on with the Chicago Bears and started 57 games for the team between 2014 and 2018. He spent last season with the New York Jets, and his season ended early after he injured his shoulder. The injury was expected to sideline him for the 2020 season, and the Jets released him from the team on Tuesday.

Bellamy has caught 78 passes for 1,019 yards and five touchdowns throughout his NFL career.

Ten others were also charged in the alleged fraud scheme:

  • Tiara Walker, 37, of Miami Gardens, Florida
  • Damion O. Mckenzie, 38, of Miami Gardens, Florida
  • Andre M. Clark, 46, of Miramar, Florida
  • Keyaira Bostic, 31, of Pembroke Pines, Florida
  • Phillip J. Augustin, 51, of Coral Springs, Florida
  • Wyleia Nashon Williams, 44, of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
  • James R. Stote, 54, of Hollywood, Florida
  • Ross Charno, 46, of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
  • Deon D. Levy, 50, of Bedford, Ohio,
  • Abdul-Azeem Levy, 22, of Cleveland, Ohio

This story was originally published by WFTS in Tampa, Florida.