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According to ESPN, 10 former NFL players have been charged with defrauding the league’s health program of millions of dollars.
The players are among a group of 12 facing charges in the Eastern District of Kentucky, the Department of Justice announced Thursday. They are accused of filing more than $3.9 million in fraudulent claims, of which more than $3.4 million were paid from June 2017 to December 2018.
“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. “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.”
Along with the charges that were announced, the Department of Justice said it will seek charges against two others, including former New Orleans Saints wide receiver Joe Horn.
The other players charged are Robert McCune, John Eubanks, Tamarick Vanover, Carlos Rogers, Ceandris Brown, James Butler, Fred Bennett, Correll Buckhalter, Etric Pruitt and Donald “Reche” Caldwell.
Prosecutors allege the players targeted the Gene Upshaw NFL Player Health Reimbursement Account Plan, which was established as part of the collective bargaining agreement in 2006. It provides tax-free reimbursement of out-of-pocket medical care expenses that were not covered by insurance and that were incurred by former players, their spouses and dependents.
According to the indictments, the players made claims for expensive pieces of medical equipment, such as hyperbaric oxygen chambers, cryotherapy machines, ultrasound machines and electromagnetic therapy devices, that weren’t purchased or received. The typical claim was for $40,000 to $50,000.
Several of the former players are accused of recruiting other players to join the scheme and would make the claims in return for kickbacks of up to $10,000.
The indictment alleges they fabricated letters from health care providers about using the medical equipment, fabricated prescriptions that were purportedly signed by health care providers and created fake invoices from medical equipment companies in an effort to prove the equipment was purchased.