The U.S. Justice Department announced on Thursday that 10 ex-NFL players have been charged in a scheme that allegedly defrauded the Gene Upshaw NFL Player Health Reimbursement Account of nearly $4 million.
Clinton Portis, Carlos Rogers, Robert McCune, John Eubanks, Tamarick Vanover, Ceandris Brown, James Butler, Frederick Bennett, Etric Pruitt, and Correll Buckhalter were charged in two separate indictments. The Washington Post reported that Joe Horn and Reche Caldwell will also be charged.
According to the indictment, the scheme allegedly operated by submitting false claims to the reimbursement account for expensive medical equipment that was never purchased. The ringleaders would find eligible players and offer to submit claims for them, and then fill out fraudulent claims for expensive medical equipment like hyperbaric oxygen chambers, ultrasound machines that are typically used on pregnant women, and electromagnetic therapy devices used on horses.
Related: Former NFL player Clinton Portis
Former NFL player Clinton Portis
Former NFL player Clinton Portis
Miami Hurricanes running back Clinton Portis kisses the national
championship trophy after Miami won the Rose Bowl 37-14 against the
Nebraska Cornhuskers in Pasadena, January 3, 2002. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Denver Broncos running back Clinton Portis celebrates his eight-yard
touchdown run in the second quarter against the San Diego Chargers in
Denver October 6, 2002. REUTERS/Gary C. Caskey
Denver Broncos running back Clinton Portis (26) runs for a gain while
quarterback Steve Beuerlein (R) tackles Seattle Seahawks linebacker Tim
Terry (59) during the fourth quarter of their NFL game at Seahawks
stadium in Seattle, November 17, 2002. The Broncos won 31-9.
REUTERS/Anthony P. Bolante
Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy (R) shakes hands with Denver Broncos running back Clinton Portis (L) after the Colts beat the Broncos 41-10 in their Wild Card playoff game at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis, IN, January 4, 2004. REUTERS/Brent Smith JPSII
Washington Redskins running back Clinton Portis walks off the field after losing to the San Diego Chargers in Landover, Maryland November 27, 2005. The Chargers defeated the Redskins 23-17 in overtime. REUTERS/Molly Riley
Washington Redskins Clinton Portis (front) is tackled by New York Giants R.W. McQuarters in the fourth quarter during their season opening NFL football game in East Rutherford, September 4, 2008. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine (UNITED STATES)
Washington Redskins' Jason Taylor, Clinton Portis and Cornelius Griffin run during a pregame workout prior to the start of the AFC-NFC Hall of Fame Game against the Indianapolis Colts in Canton. Ohio August 3, 2008. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk (UNITED STATES)
Washington Redskins running back Clinton Portis is congratulated by fans after scoring the game winning touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles during the second half of their NFL football game in Landover, Maryland, December 21, 2008. REUTERS/Jim Young (UNITED STATES)
NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 21: Clinton Portis #26 of the Washington Redskins warms up before a game against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field on November 21, 2010 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Redskins defeated the Titans in overtime 19 to 16. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 21: Clinton Portis #26 of the Washington Redskins runs with the football against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field on November 21, 2010 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Redskins defeated the Titans 19-16 in overtime. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
TALLAHASSEE, FL - NOVEMBER 02: Miami Hurricanes Alumni Greats Alex Rodriguez, Edgerrin James and Clinton Portis pose during the game against the Florida State Seminoles at Doak Campbell Stadium on Bobby Bowden Field on November 2, 2013 in Tallahassee, Florida. 3rd ranked Florida State defeated 7th ranked Miami 41 to 14. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)
PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 05: Former Pro Football Player Clinton Portis attends the Los Angeles Sports & Entertainment Commission's National Championship party at The Pasadena Convention Center on January 5, 2014 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic)
CENTURY CITY, CA - MAY 18: NFL Running Back Clinton Portis attends the 29th Anniversary Sports Spectacular Gala at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza on May 18, 2014 in Century City, California. (Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic)
29 August 2015: Former Washington Redskins running back Clinton Portis broadcasts from the field at M&T Bank Stadium, in Baltimore, MD. (Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images)
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They would obtain fabricated support documents such as invoices, and letters or prescriptions from medical providers, and then submit the claims. In exchange for obtaining the false documentation and submitting the fraudulent claims, the ringleaders allegedly received “kickbacks” and bribes for as much as $10,000.
The claims were around $40,000 to $50,000 each, and were submitted between June 2017 and December 2018. According to the indictment, the players submitted $3.9 million in false claims, of which $3.4 million was paid out.
The Gene Upshaw NFL Player Health Reimbursement Account is meant to cover medical expenses for former NFL players after their NFL veterans insurance runs out.
“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 on Thursday, via the Washington Post. “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.”