The U.S. Justice Department announced the arrest of former New York Jets and Chicago Bears wide receiver Josh Bellamy on Thursday. He is facing charges in a federal criminal complaint with fraud, bank fraud, and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud due to his alleged role in a $24 million scheme to receive illegal loans intended for coronavirus relief.
Bellamy allegedly received more than $1.2 million in loans as part of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for his company Drip Entertainment LLC. The Justice Department said that Bellamy spent more than $62,000 of this money at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Florida. He also allegedly used more than $104,000 for luxury goods, which included purchases at Dior, Gucci, and various jewelers. Finally, he allegedly withdrew more than $302,000.
Bellamy was arrested on Thursday morning in Florida. He was scheduled to appear later that same day in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Christopher Tuite of the Middle District of Florida. Along with Bellamy, 10 others were arrested on Thursday due to their alleged involvement in the scheme.
The PPP was a way for qualifying small businesses suffering financial hardship from the coronavirus pandemic to receive a low-interest loan. This program surfaced in June as part of the $2 trillion CARES Act to help provide emergency funds. Of the money, businesses could use 60% of the funds for payroll and the other 40% for additional costs.
According to ESPN, the New York Jets released Bellamy from the physically unable to perform list on Tuesday. The team reportedly did not know about the arrest before his release. He had been recovering from a shoulder injury after ending the 2019 season on Injured Reserve and started training camp on the PUP list.
Prior to his time with the Jets, Bellamy made his way into the NFL in 2012 as an undrafted free agent out of Louisville. He spent one season with Kansas City before making his way to Washington and then Chicago. It was with the Bears that Bellamy found the most success of his career. In 2017, he posted a career-high 24 receptions for 376 yards with one touchdown while serving as a backup receiver.
Following five seasons with the Bears, Bellamy signed a two-year, $5 million contract with the Jets. He played primarily on special teams during his seven games and only registered two receptions for 20 yards.