Former NFL Player Josh Bellamy Jailed for Receiving Over $1.2M in Fraudulent COVID Relief

Former New York Jets wide receiver Josh Bellamy was sent to federal prison in Florida Friday after using his company, Drip Entertainment LLC, to fraudulently obtain $1.2 million from COVID-19 relief funds.

Bellamy, 32, was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in June. He is also required to pay restitution.

According to court records, Bellamy used false information and falsified documents, allegedly created by his accomplice James Stote, to obtain a $1.2 million loan for his company from the Paycheck Protection Program.

Bellamy admitted to using the loans for personal purchases such as a stay at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino and to buy luxury items like jewelry.

Bellamy also told investigators that he paid more than $311,000 to Stote for his role, according to the prosecution. Stote is alleged to have been responsible for putting together and submitting the fraudulent documents needed for the loan.

Furthermore, Bellamy is alleged to have solicited loans for his family members and close associates.

The PPP was a part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security act. The PPP was designed to provide forgivable loans to businesses struggling because of the pandemic but has been at the the center of multiple fraud claims.

Josh Bellamy, Former NFL, COVID-19
Former New York Jets wide receiver Josh Bellamy was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison for using his company, Drip Entertainment LLC, to fraudulently obtain $1.2 million in COVID-19 relief funds. Above, Bellamy, 32, warms up before a road game against the Philadelphia Eagles on Oct. 6, 2019. Matt Rourke/AP Photo

In the same scheme, a South Florida woman was sentenced Thursday to two years in federal prison for fraudulently obtaining a PPP loan. According to court documents, Yashica Bain, 38, of Miramar, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. She obtained a PPP loan of $415,232 for her company, Microblading Brow Studio LLC, using falsified documents and false information, prosecutors said. Authorities said she told them that she paid Stote more than $28,000 for his assistance in preparing and submitting the fraudulent loan application. She was also ordered to pay restitution.

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

Bellamy, of St. Petersburg, Florida, most recently played for the Jets, who released him from the reserve/physically unable to play list in September 2020, just days before his arrest. The wide receiver had been placed on the list in May of that year, ending his season before it began. He signed a two-year deal worth $5 million with New York in 2019 and played in seven games before injuring a shoulder and being placed on the season-ending injured reserve list.

Bellamy had 78 career receptions 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. Bellamy spent time with San Diego and Washington before being claimed off waivers by Chicago in 2014 and played five seasons with the Bears.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Josh Bellamy, Jersey Swap, NFL
Former NFL wide receiver Josh Bellamy, left, was sent to federal prison for using his company to fraudulently obtain $1.2 million in COVID-19 relief funds. Above, Bellamy of the New York Jets and Jordan Howard of the Philadelphia Eagles pose for a picture after a jersey swap at Lincoln Financial Field on October 6, 2019, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Mitchell Leff/Getty Images