NFL Players Plead Guilty to Defrauding the League’s Health Care Plan
Three more former National Football League (NFL) players have pleaded guilty to defrauding the league’s health care fund established for retired players, the U.S. Department of Justice reported on Tuesday.
Clinton Portis, Tamarick Vanover, and Robert McCune admitted to defrauding the Gene Upshaw NFL Player Health Reimbursement Account Plan, established in 2006 to provide tax-free reimbursements to retired players for medical expenses not covered by insurance, up to US$350,000 per player.
The life of an NFL player can be rife with injuries, cutting short their careers and leaving them with significant, long-lasting health problems.
Prosecutors say Portis submitted fraudulent claims to the plan worth $99,264. The money was used for an oxygen chamber and a cryosauna, which he never actually purchased, the Lexington Herald Leader reports. A cryosauna is like a sauna, only cold.
Vanover recruited three other former players into the scheme, obtaining $159,510 for medical equipment never actually purchased.
Portis and Vanover have agreed to pay full restitution to the plan. Sentencing is set for Jan. 6, 2022 and Jan. 22, 2022, respectively; they each face up to 10 years’ imprisonment for conspiring to commit health care fraud.
McCune, described as the mastermind behind the conspiracy, is connected to fraudulent claims worth approximately $2.9 million, of which the plan paid out roughly $2.5 million between June 2017 and April 2018.
A 2020 indictment said McCune recruited others into the scheme and received kickbacks of up to $10,000 or more for every false medical claim he submitted on their behalf.
Prosecutors said each claim ranged between $40,000-$50,000.
At least 60 players are alleged to be implicated in the scheme, according to a memorandum submitted by one of the player’s attorneys, the Lexington Herald Leader reports.
Word of the conspiracy was spread over social media and group text chats looking to recruit more members.
So far, 15 have pleaded guilty to their connection to the scheme.
McCune’s 13 counts of health care fraud, 11 counts of wire fraud, and three counts of aggravated identity theft could see him spend the rest of his life behind bars.
Sentencing is set for Nov 19.