Ten NFL players have been indicted over
allegations of submitting nearly $4 million in
false claims for use of medical equipment
Ten former NFL players indicted for nearly $4 million in false claims
December 17, 2019
by John R. Fischer
, Senior Reporter
A group of former NFL players are facing a legal match with the Justice Department over allegations of submitting false claims amounting to nearly $4 million for the use of various medical equipment.
The U.S. agency unsealed two separate indictments against 10 players last week, accusing them of submitting and collecting more than $3.9 million in false claims to the Gene Upshaw NFL Player Health Reimbursement Account Plan, a private insurance plan established as part of a 2006 collective bargaining agreement between team owners and players. The two separate indictments concern two alleged conspiracies involving different players related to the same scheme to defraud the plan.
“Ten former NFL players allegedly committed a brazen, multi-million-dollar fraud on a health care plan meant to help their former teammates and other retired players pay legitimate, out-of-pocket medical expenses,” said Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski for the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice in a statement. “Today’s indictments underscore that whoever you are, if you loot healthcare programs to line your own pockets, you will be held accountable by the Department of Justice.”
The plan provided tax-free reimbursement for out-of-pocket medical expenses not covered by insurance for former players, their wives and their dependents. Each player was covered by up to a maximum of $350,000.
The indictments allege that the defendants purposely attempted to undermine the plan by submitting false claims and obtaining money for the use of medical equipment that was never purchased or received, and ranged in cost between $40,000 and $50,000 for each claim. Among the devices that the claims referred to were ultrasound machines designed for performing women’s health examinations in a doctor’s office; hyperbaric oxygen chambers; and electromagnetic therapy devices designed for use on horses.
The scheme was headed by former Redskins linebacker Robert McCune; former Redskins cornerback John Eubanks; former Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tamarick Vanover; former Philadelphia Eagles running back Correll Buckhalter; and former Redskins and 49ers cornerback Carlos Rogers, according to the indictments.
The five are alleged to have recruited other players by offering to submit or cause the submission of false and fraudulent claims in exchange for kickbacks and bribes ranging from a few thousand dollars to $10,000 or more per claim submitted. They also are accused of fabricating supporting documentation for the claims, including invoices, prescriptions and letters of medical necessity, with McCune and Buckhalter allegedly calling the plan and impersonating other players in order to check on the status of the claims submitted.
McCune faces one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and healthcare fraud, as well as nine counts of wire fraud and nine counts of healthcare fraud. Eubanks, Vanover and Rogers each face one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and healthcare fraud, two counts of wire fraud and two counts of healthcare fraud. Buckhalter, along with former Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks defensive back Etric Pruitt are charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and healthcare fraud.
Former Denver Broncos and Washington running back Clinton Portis; former Houston Texans Safety Ceandris Brown; former New York Giants and St. Louis Rams safety James Butler; and former Houston Texans defensive back Fred Bennett each face a charge of one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and healthcare fraud, one count of wire fraud and one count of healthcare fraud.
The government also intends to file criminal information for conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud in the Eastern District of Kentucky against Joseph Horn, a former wide receiver for the Kansas City Chiefs, Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints; and Donald ‘Reche’ Caldwell, a former wide receiver for the San Diego Chargers, New England Patriots and Washington Redskins.
“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,” said U.S. Attorney Robert M. Duncan Jr., for the Eastern District of Kentucky, in a statement. “We have prioritized the investigation and prosecution of health care fraud in our office, and we appreciate the partnership we share with the criminal division and the FBI in pursuing these important matters.”
The two separate indictments concern two alleged conspiracies involving different players related to the same scheme to defraud the plan, and were filed in the Eastern District of Kentucky.
The case was investigated by more than 20 FBI field offices and is being prosecuted by the Health Care Fraud Unit of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Kentucky.
The NFL told HCB News that it did "not have a comment" at this time.