Saint Petersburg, FL

Former NFL Player Jailed For Fraudulently Obtaining $1.2M of Federal Relief - He Used it for Jewelry and Casino Trips

Toby Hazlewood

Others in Florida used the same scam

Josh Bellamy, former wide receiver for the New York Jets and resident of St Petersburg, Florida was jailed for up to 37 months on December 10 after he took part in a scam to fraudulently obtain Federal COVID relief bailouts. He was arrested and charged 12-months ago.

The money was obtained in co-operation with a scam run by one James Stote, and resulted in Bellamy's company Drip Entertainment LLC receiving $1.2 million under the Paycheck Protection Program.

Instead of using the money as was intended - to protect the income of employees - Bellamy admitted in court that he'd used some of the money to fund vacations to the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.

Part of a larger crime?

It's believed that Bellamy also used the same scheme - involving the creation of falsified documents - to obtain similar payments for members of his family. James Stote - the originator of the scam is yet to appear in court for his part in the crime.

Department of Justice documents show that Bellamy paid Stote $311,000 for his part in the scheme.

A Florida woman - Yashica Bain - was also charged of the same crimes as Bellamy, having worked with Stote to falsify a PPP claim. Bain, of Miramar, Florida also obtained a PPP loan of $415,232 for her company, Microblading Brow Studio LLC, using falsified documents prepared by Stote. He was reported to have received a $28k kickback from her.

Fraudulently obtaining financial help

Court documents from the case highlight the scale of the problem of fraudulent claims having been made against the PPP scheme and other elements of the CARES Act. Since the Act's inception, over 150 defendants have been prosecuted in more than 95 criminal cases. Over $75 million in cash proceeds derived from fraudulently obtained PPP funds has been seized, as well as numerous real estate properties and luxury items purchased with the proceeds.

With high-profile figures like Josh Bellamy having proven willing to obtain money fraudulently, it's easy to see how such sums of money have been defrauded from the Federal Government and hence, from American taxpayers.

Bellamy will serve his sentence in federal prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in June. He is also required to pay restitution.

Do you believe that the CARES act should have put more stringent checks in place before handing out money, or did the government do what it could to vet claims? Let me know in the comments section below.

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