Ten former NFL players, including former Washington Redskins running back Clinton Portis, are accused of defrauding a league health care program by submitting fake invoices for medical equipment, including a hyperbaric chamber, which they never actually purchased, federal prosecutors said Thursday.
The retired players got $3.4 million in reimbursements from a fund that reimburses former NFL athletes for out-of-pocket health care expenses, prosecutors said.
“A group of former players brazenly defrauded the plan by seeking reimbursements for… expensive medical equipment that they never purchased,” Assistant Attorney General Benczkowski told reporters.
“Things like hyperbaric oxygen chambers, ultrasound machines used by doctors offices to conduct women’s health exams and even electromagnetic therapy devices designed for use on horses.”
The players submitted forms for $3.9 million in reimbursements and received $3.4 million between June 2017 and December 2018, officials said.
Ring leaders recruited other former players to participate in the scheme and got thousands of dollars in kickbacks once reimbursement checks were received, prosecutors said.
The plan’s administrators, Cigna health services, spotted the irregular claims and reached out to federal authorities, officials said.
“In each case, the forms submitted in support of the claims were completely fabricated,” Benczkowski said. “These included things fake invoices from medical supply companies and forged letters and prescriptions from medical care providers.”
The phony reimbursements claims generally ranged between $40,000 and $50,000, according to Benczkowski.
“By defrauding the plan and treating it like their own personal ATM, sadly the defendants placed the plan’s tax-exempt status at risk and threatened the ability law-abiding former players to continue to receive tax-free reimbursement for legitimate medical expenses for themselves or their families.”
The plan is for former players, so no current players are part of this investigation, according to prosecutors.
In addition to Portis, other former players accused of fraud include cornerback Carlos Rogers, linebacker Robert McCune, cornerback John Eubanks, wide receiver Tamarick Vanover, cornerback Ceandris Brown, safety James Butler, running back Correll Buckhalter and safety Etric Pruitt.
The 38-year-old Portis was the best known former player among those charged by the Justice Department. Portis played nine seasons in the NFL, from 2002 through 2010, and rushed for more than 1,000 yards in six of those years.
Portis has struggled in his post-playing life, having filed for bankruptcy in 2015. The retired running back once told Sports Illustrated magazine that he considering murdering the men he believed mismanaged his $43.1 million in career earnings.
The post Clinton Portis among former NFL players accused of fraud against league’s health care program appeared first on NBC News.