Every now and again, former pro athletes get caught up in some relatively minor and often ham-fisted financial crime, like getting caught participating in an insider-trading ring run by a former Goldman analyst. Having focused on sports their whole careers, many athletes leave the league with a lot of money, and not a ton of business savvy, making them popular marks for grifters and schemers.
Not this time. In a stunning fraud that bears all the hallmarks of an insurance kickback scheme constructed by the Russian mob, ten former NFL players have been charged by federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of Kentucky for participating in what is described as a "an alleged...nationwide fraud on a health care benefit program for retired NFL players."
The fraud centers around the Gene Upshaw NFL Player Health Reimbursement Account, which was established as part of the NFL players' union's 2006 collective bargaining agreement.
The union health plan is basically a backstop to ensure that any sports-related medical costs incurred by players are handled by the League, even if the issues don't manifest until after retirement. Each player can tap a maximum of $350,000 from the fund. According to prosecutors, the 10 indicted players filed just under $4 million in fraudulent claims, and received more than $3.4 million in payouts between June 2017 and December 2018.
Prosecutors bashed the players for abusing a fund intended to cover the medical costs of their fellow players and retirees.
"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 Benczkowski. "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."
Most of the fake claims involved expensive medical equipment that was never actually purchased. Equipment described by the claims included hyperbaric oxygen chambers and cryotherapy machines and even ultrasound machines.
Two separate indictments were filed in the Kentucky District against NFL players, including five former players on the Washington Redskins, Clinton Portis (a former Pro Bowl running back) and Carlos Rogers, according to the Department of Justice.
- Robert McCune, 40, of Riverdale, Georgia, is 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.
- John Eubanks, 36, of Cleveland, Mississippi; Tamarick Vanover, 45, of Tallahassee, Florida; and Carlos Rogers, 38, of Alpharetta, Georgia, are each 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.
- Clinton Portis, 38, of McLean, Virginia; Ceandris Brown, 36, of Fresno, Texas; James Butler, 37, of Atlanta, Georgia; and Fredrick Bennett, 35, of Port Wentworth, Georgia, are each 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.
- Correll Buckhalter, 41, of Colleyville, Texas, and Etric Pruitt, 38, of Theodore, Alabama, are charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and health care fraud.
Claims were submitted using forged paperwork leading back to fake medical practices.
Of course, the DoJ has no problem cracking down on NFL players caught taking kickbacks. But when it comes to persecuting the NFL for not taking care of their players after they retire.
10 players getting kickbacks from healthcare: "throw the book at them"— David Wallace (@Andrew1TM) December 12, 2019
the NFL misrepresenting concussion data and not taking care of their players after they retire: *crickets*