Former NFL All-Pro Clinton Portis was among a group of 10 former players charged Thursday with bilking millions of dollars from a league health care program through fraudulent claims, the U.S. Department of Justice said.
The players are alleged to have targeted the Gene Upshaw NFL Player Health Reimbursement Account Plan, a program that provides tax-free reimbursement for out-of-pocket medical costs that aren’t already covered by insurance.
Prosecutors said the defendants would file false claims for expensive medical equipment such as ultrasound machines and cryotherapy machines that were never actually purchased. The false claims cost the reimbursement account plan more than $3.4 million from June 2017 to December 2018.
“The defendants are alleged to have developed and executed a fraudulent scheme to undermine a health care benefit plan established by the NFL – one established to help their former teammates and colleagues pay for legitimate medical expenses,” said U.S. Attorney Robert M. Duncan Jr. of the Eastern District of Kentucky.
The NFL Players Association declined to comment on the situation. An NFL representative could not immediately be reached.
The former NFL players charged included John Eubanks, Robert McCune, Correll Buckhalter, Tamarick Vanover, Carlos Rogers, Etric Pruitt, Fred Bennett, Ceandris Brown and James Butler. The defendants face an array of charges, including conspiracy to commit wire fraud and health care fraud.
Prosecutors also intend to charge former New Orleans Saints star Joe Horn and former New England Patriots wide receiver Reche Caldwell in connection to the case.
Aside from submitting false orders for medical equipment, the players are alleged to have created fabricated documents, including invoices and prescriptions, to support the scheme. Buckhalter and McCune purportedly made phone calls posing as other players to check on the status of the orders.
The typical fraudulent claim was for $40,000 to $50,000, according to the DOJ.