Ex-NFL Star Gets Three Years for #COVID19 Fraud

A former NFL player has become the latest in a long line of individuals sent down for defrauding a US government COVID-19 relief scheme.

Joshua Bellamy, 32, of St. Petersburg, Florida, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud back in June, and was sentenced on Friday to 37 months in a federal prison.

He fraudulently obtained $1.2m via a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the US Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Bellamy submitted false documents to the SBA related to his company Drip Entertainment and then spent some of the money on jewelry and a stay at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. He is said to have paid $300,000 as a kickback to co-conspirator James Stote, who apparently helped to prepare and submit the fraudulent application.

As with many similar cases of COVID-19 fraud, Bellamy reportedly lied about the number of employees working at his company and other payroll information.

The former Chicago Bears and New York Jets wide receiver was also ordered to serve three years of supervised released and pay $1.2m in restitution and the same amount in forfeiture.  

Yashica Bain, 38, of Miramar, Florida, was sentenced to two years in a federal prison for fraudulently obtaining a PPP loan as part of this scheme.

She is said to have secured a loan of $415,232 for her company, Microblading Brow Studio, which she spent on herself and others. Bain also paid $28,000 to Stote for his help in preparing the application.

Stote’s case is still pending, but he was charged on June 24, 2020, with wire fraud, bank fraud, and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud.

According to the DoJ, 150 individuals in more than 95 criminal cases have been prosecuted since the CARES Act was rolled out. Authorities have also seized over $75 million in fraudulently obtained cash proceeds, as well as real estate properties and luxury items purchased with PPP funds.

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