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Ex-NFL WR Josh Bellamy sentenced to 3 years in prison for COVID relief fraud

TAMPA, Fla. — Former NFL wide receiver Josh Bellamy was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison for fraudulently receiving more than $1.2 million in coronavirus relief loans, the U.S. Department of Justice said Friday.

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Bellamy, 32, of St. Petersburg, Florida, received his sentence Friday in Tampa federal court, according to a news release. He pleaded guilty in June to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, USA Today reported.

In addition to his prison sentence, Bellamy was ordered to serve three years of supervised release, pay $1,246,565 in restitution and $1,246,565 in forfeiture, according to the Justice Department news release.

In a criminal complaint released in September 2020 by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Bellamy committed wire fraud and bank fraud in 2020 between May 21 and Aug. 3.

Bellamy played eight seasons in the NFL with the Kansas City Chiefs, Chicago Bears, the Washington Football Team and the New York Jets.

The Jets released Bellamy from the reserve/physically unable to perform list two days before he was arrested. His release had been expected because of a shoulder injury that prevented him from playing during the 2020 season, NJ.com reported.

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According to the criminal complaint, Bellamy obtained a Paycheck Protection Program loan of $1,246,565 for his company, Drip Entertainment LLC. He then used the money to purchase more than $104,000 in luxury goods, the Justice Department said.

He also used some of the money to buy jewelry and stay at a Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida, USA Today reported.

Prosecutors said Bellamy sent a wire transfer of $57,000 to a custom jewelry store on June 2, 2020. The next day, he allegedly sent a $38,000 wire transfer to another jewelry store. According to bank records, on June 8, Bellamy bought $5,381.60 in goods at a Gucci store and $1,020.98 at a Milano Exchange store. On June 14, Bellamy spent $2,014.80, the Justice Department said.

Bellamy also helped family members and friends seek fraudulent PPP loans, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

Bellamy also told investigators that he paid more than $311,000 to an alleged co-conspirator, James Stote, as a kickback for his assistance in preparing and submitting the fraudulent loan application, prosecutors said.

Stote was charged in June 2020 with wire fraud, bank fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud. His case is pending.

Bellamy has 78 catches for 1,019 yards and five touchdowns in his eight NFL seasons. He signed with Kansas City as an undrafted free agent out of Louisville in 2012.

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