Ex NFL wide receiver Josh Bellamy has been sentenced to 37 months in prison for committing fraud. The fraud scheme led him to illegally obtain more than $1.2 million in COVID-19 relief funds.

Bellamy pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud on June 9. A federal court in Tampa handed down his prison sentence on Friday and ordered him to pay $1,246,565 in restitution and the same amount in forfeiture for the fraudulently obtained funds, according to court records. Bellamy was initially charged among a group of 11 defendants accused of illegally applying for more than $24 million in PPP funds.

Paycheck Protection Program or PPP was initially put in place to help businesses maintain their workforces during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to records, Bellamy used falsified documents and information to obtain the loan for his company Drip Entertainment, LLC through the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Progra

According to court records, Bellamy used the funds on personal expenditures including jewelry and a stay at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. He also sought loans for family members and said that he used $311,000 in funds to pay back alleged co-conspirator James State, whom he claims helped him prepare his fraudulent loan application. James has also been charged with wire fraud, bank fraud, and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud. His case is pending. 

Bellamy played eight NFL seasons from 2012-19. He collected more than $8.1 million in career earnings. He last played for the New York Jets in 2019

Well, Bellamy isn’t the first former NFL player to plead guilty in a COVID-19 relief fund scheme. Wide receiver, Kenbrell Thompkins pleaded guilty in October to fraudulently obtaining COVID-19 unemployment insurance benefits from the state of California. He’s scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 6 and faces a maximum of 12 years in prison.

Anushmitta Dutta

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