US Charges NFL Player in COVID-19 Fraud Scheme

US Charges NFL Player in COVID-19 Fraud Scheme

The U.S. Department of Justice says it has charged a National Football League (NFL) player with fraud in connection with a scheme to obtain more the $24 million in Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP) loans meant to help businesses get through the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a news release, the Justice Department says prosecutors arrested 31-year-old Josh Bellamy Thursday at his home in St. Petersburg, Florida. Bellamy had played most recently with the New York Jets until he was released last week.

Prosecutors allege Bellamy, Phillip Augustin and 10 other conspirators applied for more than $24 million in PPP loans. Many of those loan applications were approved and funded by financial institutions, paying out at least $17.4 million.

Prosecutors say Bellamy himself received $1.2 million for his own company, Drip Entertainment LLC, which he claimed employed 47 people. The complaint says Bellamy used $104,000 from his loan to buy luxury items, including purchases at Dior and Gucci stores and from jewelry stores. He is also alleged to have spent more than $62,000 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida.

The PPP loans are part of the CARES Act, a federal law passed in March to provide emergency financial assistance to the millions of Americans who are suffering the economic effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The act included $329 billion in forgivable PPP loans meant for small business to continue paying their employees and to cover other expenses. Congress authorized an additional $300 billion for the program in April.

The Justice Department says that so far, it has charged 57 people with attempting to steal $175 million in COVID-19 relief funds.

Published at Fri, 11 Sep 2020 20:05:30 +0000