Ten former players have been charged with attempting to defraud the NFL’s healthcare program of almost $4 million, a report says.
The U.S. Department of Justice charged the players on Thursday in the Eastern District of Kentucky saying that they all submitted false claims against the healthcare plan, according to the Washington Post.
At least five players were arrested at their homes by the FBI on Thursday, including Clinton Portis, Robert McCune, John Eubanks, Ceandris Brown, and Carlos Rogers. The remaining players, including Tamarick Vanover, James Butler, Frederick Bennett, Correll Buckhalter, and Etric Pruitt, are expected to turn themselves in this week.
Federal officials also noted that they intend to file charges against players Joe Horn and Reche Caldwell for conspiracy to commit health care fraud.
The players are charged with a variety of crimes, including conspiracy to commit health care wire fraud, wire fraud, and health care fraud. The charges include allegations that the players variously charged the health plan for medical equipment such as hyperbaric chambers, cryotherapy machines, ultrasound machines, and even for machines not used for human healthcare. In most cases, none of the machines were ever delivered to the players.
The government also says that these players elicited the aid of others to engage in the fraudulent charges to the NFL’s healthcare plan. Investigators say the players gave others kickbacks and bribes of up to $10,000 to perpetuate the fraud. The players allegedly fabricated documents and receipts and submitted fake prescriptions to the plan.
The healthcare plan reportedly paid out nearly $4 million to players for these false charges.
“The expensive medical equipment described in the Reimbursement Request Forms that the Defendants submitted or caused to be submitted to the Plan were never purchased or received from the Participant, and the invoices from medical equipment companies, letters from health care providers, and prescriptions from health care providers accompanying the Reimbursement Request Forms were all fabricated,” reads the indictment.
Prosecutors claim that players McCune and then Buckhalter were key organizers of the fraud scheme.
Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski said the scheme was a “typical health care fraud scheme,” instigated by McCune and Buckhalter.
“There were two ringleaders,” AG Benczkowski said. “The second ringleader learned of the scheme from the first, was a participant in the first conspiracy. Those individuals then recruited recruiters — they found recruiters to reach out to former players they knew, to offer the opportunity to be part of the conspiracy and get these payments.”
Benczkowski added that the feds got involved after health insurer Cigna noticed the string of odd charges filed to the NFL plan. “When you see something like that as a claims administrator, it tends to draw your attention,” Benczkowski insisted.
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