Ten former NFL players have been charged with defrauding the league’s health care benefit program, the Justice Department said Thursday.
The players include former Washington Redskins Clinton Portis and Carlos Rogers.
Prosecutors allege the players targeted the Gene Upshaw NFL Player Health Reimbursement Account Plan, which was established as part of a collective bargaining agreement in 2006.
It provides tax-free reimbursement of out-of-pocket medical care expenses that were not covered by insurance and that were incurred by former players, their spouses and dependents.
The Justice Department alleges the players submitted nearly $4 million in false claims to the plan, resulting in over $3.4 million being paid out between June 2017 and December 2018.
The charges were filed Wednesday morning against the following defendants in addition to Portis and Rogers:
- Robert McCune, a former linebacker with the Redskins.
- John Eubanks, a former cornerback with the Redskins.
- Tamarick Vanover, a former Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver.
- Ceandris “C.C.” Brown, a former Houston Texans safety.
- James Butler, a former New York Giants and St. Louis Rams safety.
- Fredrick Bennett, a former Houston Texans defensive back.
- Etric Pruitt, a former defensive back for the Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks.
- Correll Buckhalter, a former Philadelphia Eagles running back.
The DOJ also intends to file charges against Joe Horn, a former wide receiver for the New Orleans Saints, and Reche Caldwell, a former wide receiver for the San Diego Chargers and New England Patriots.
Court papers allege Portis and seven of the former players submitted claims to be reimbursed for expensive medical equipment. But prosecutors allege they had never purchased or received the medical equipment.
— Rick Maese (@RickMaese) December 12, 2019
The equipment consisted of hyperbaric chambers, cryotherapy machines, ultrasound machines and more. The costs are estimated between $40,000 to $50,000 each.
The indictment filed in federal court in Kentucky alleges the players fabricated letters from health care providers about using the medical equipment, fabricated prescriptions that were purportedly signed by health care providers and created fake invoices from medical equipment companies in an effort to prove the equipment was purchased.
“Ten former NFL players allegedly committed a brazen, multimillion dollar fraud on a health care plan meant to help their former teammates and other retired players pay legitimate, out-of-pocket medical expenses,” Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski said in a statement.
“Today’s indictments underscore that whoever you are, if you loot health care programs to line your own pockets, you will be held accountable by the Department of Justice.”
Portis’ attorney, Mark Dycio, told The Washington Post that the two-time Pro Bowler is innocent.
“Clinton Portis had no knowledge that his participation in what he believed to be an NFL sanctioned medical reimbursement program was illegal,” Dycio said. “He is completely taken aback by this indictment and will move forward with the process of clearing his good name and those of his fellow NFL alumni.”
The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.
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