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Former New York Jets player hit with jail time for COVID relief scam

A one-time New York Jets player who fraudulently obtained more than $1 million in pandemic relief funds has been sentenced to three years in jail.

Joshua Bellamy, who spent most of his football career as a wide receiver for the Chicago Bears, used his $1.2 million loan from the Paycheck Protection Program — intended to support flailing businesses and their employees amid the coronavirus crisis — on a casino trip and other luxury items like jewelry, according to court documents. He spent more than $62,000 at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino and Hotel alone, according to prosecutors.

Bellamy also gave 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.

The former New York athlete pleaded guilty in June to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and was ordered on Friday to spend 37 months behind bars. He will additionally have to repay the $1,246,565, the Justice Department said in a statement.

Prosecutors said Bellamy applied for the funds through his company, Drip Entertainment LLC, using documents and false information rife with lies about payroll and the number of employees he had on staff. He also sought out loans on behalf of his family members, the statement said.

Bellamy, a nine-year player for the NFL who spent five seasons with the Bears, was released from the Jets shortly before he was hit with charges in the scam. He was among 11 people charged in connection…

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