Washington, DC – Several former National Football League (NFL) players, including former Redskin Pro Bowl running back Clinton Portis, have been charged with trying to defraud the league’s health care program for retired players.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) has indicted Portis, Carlos Rogers, Robert McCune, John Eubanks, Tamarick Vanover, Ceandris Brown, James Butler, Frederick Bennett, Correll Buckhalter, and Etric Pruitt so far, FOX News reported.
The government has said it planned to also charge former NFL players Joe Horn and Reche Caldwell with conspiracy to commit health care fraud.
“The defendants are alleged to have developed and executed a fraudulent scheme to undermine a health care benefit plan established by the NFL – one established to help their former teammates and colleagues pay for legitimate medical expenses,” said U.S. Attorney Robert M. Duncan Jr., for the Eastern District of Kentucky.
“The defendants allegedly submitted false claims to the plan and obtained money for expensive medical equipment that was never purchased or received, depriving that plan of valuable resources to help others meet their medical needs,” Duncan said.
The NFL established the Gene Upshaw NFL Player Health Reimbursement Account Plan in 2006 to provide tax-free reimbursement for medical expenses that were not covered by insurance that were incurred by former players or their immediate family members, FOX News reported.
Prosecutors have alleged that the group of former football players tried to charge made-up expenses for expensive health equipment to the NFL’s health care plan so they could get tax-free reimbursements.
Federal documents showed that, collectively, the charged players submitted more than $3.9 million in fraudulent medical claims between June 2017 and June 2018 for hyperbaric oxygen chambers, cryotherapy machines, ultrasound machines, and electromagnetic therapy devices that were designed to be used on a horse, FOX News reported.
The fake claims for expensive equipment ran $40,000 to $50,000 each.
The players who first participated in the fraud are accused of recruiting other players to participate and asking for kickbacks or bribes as payment, FOX News reported.
The bribes ranged from a few thousand dollars up to as much as $10,000 per successful fraudulent claim.
Portis, Brown, Butler, and Bennett have each been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and health care fraud, one count of wire fraud, and one count of health care fraud, according to FOX News.
McCune has been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and health care fraud, nine counts of wire fraud, and nine counts of health care fraud.
Eubanks, Vanover, and Rogers have each been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and health care fraud, two counts of wire fraud, and two counts of health care fraud, according to FOX News.
And Buckhalter and Pruitt have each been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and health care fraud.
Portis was by far the most high-profile of the former football stars to be charged, FOX News reported.
He played nine seasons for the Washington Redskins and made $43.1 million over his career in salary and bonuses.