Department of Justice has brought up charges against ten former NFL players for allegedly defrauding an NFL-retiree health program of $4 million by filing fraudulent healthcare claims.
The Gene Upshaw NFL Player Health Reimbursement Account Plan was established in 2006 and is intended to provide tax-free reimbursement of out-of-pocket medical expenses that are not covered by insurance for former NFL players and their families. Prosecutors claim that the former players submitted fraudulent claims between June 2017 to December 2018 for high-end medical equipment, such as hyperbaric oxygen chambers, ultrasound machines such as those commonly seen in gynecologist offices and electromagnetic therapy devices used for horses. Each claim totaled $40,000 to $50,000.
However, the scheme came undone when Cigna, the plan’s administrator, caught wind of the suspicious claims and reported it to the FBI. Some of the accused recruited other retired players to assist in the scheme in exchange for kickbacks.
The retirees that have been charged are Clinton Portis, Carlos Rogers, Robert McCune, John Eubanks, Tamarick Vanover, Ceandris Brown, James Butler, Frederick Bennett, Correll Buckhalter, and Etric Pruitt. More charges are expected as the FBI is looking file criminal charges against Joe Horn and Donald Caldwell for conspiracy as well.
McCune is charged with conspiracy, nine counts of wire fraud and nine counts of health care fraud. Eubanks, Vanover, and Rogers are charged with conspiracy, two counts each of wire fraud, and two counts each of health care fraud. Portis, Brown, Butler and Bennett are charged with conspiracy, wire fraud and health care fraud, and Buckhalter and Pruitt are charged with one count each of conspiracy.
Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski said in a statement, “By defrauding the plan and treating it like their own personal ATM, sadly the defendants placed the plan’s tax-exempt status at risk and threatened the ability of law-abiding former players to continue to receive tax-free reimbursement for legitimate medical expenses for themselves or their families.”