WASHINGTON -- Ten former NFL players have been charged in an alleged scheme to defraud a health care benefit program for retired players, the Department of Justice announced Thursday.
The players include Clinton Portis, 38, Correll Buckhalter, 41, Robert McCune, 40, John Eubanks, 36, Ceandris Brown, 36, Tamarick Vanover, 45, Carlos Rogers, 38, James Butler, Frederick Bennett, 35 and Etrick Pruitt, 38.
Prosecutors say the players were defrauding the Gene Upshaw NFL Player Health Reimbursement Account Plan, established as part of the 2006 collective bargaining agreement. The plan provides tax-free reimbursement for out-of-pocket medical expenses not covered by insurance for former players, their wives and dependents up to $350,000 per player.
More than $3.9 million in fraudulent claims were submitted to the plan, with the plan paying out $3.4 million of the claims between June 2017 and December 2018, according to the indictments.
The alleged fraud involved filing claims for expensive medical equipment, including hyperbaric oxygen chambers, cryotherapy machines and ultrasound machines that was never actually purchased, the indictments said.
Prosecutors said McCune, Eubanks, Vanover, Buckhalter, Rogers and others recruited players into the scheme by offering to submit the fraudulent claims in exchange for kickbacks.
"Ten former NFL players allegedly committed a brazen, multi-million dollar fraud on a health care plan meant to help their former teammates and other retired players pay legitimate, out-of-pocket medical expenses," said Assistant Attorney General Benczkowski. "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."
Charges were filed in two separate indictments filed in the Eastern District of Kentucky.
McCune was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and health care fraud and nine counts of wire fraud and nine counts of health care fraud.
Eubanks, Vanover and Rogers were each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and health care fraud, two counts of wire fraud and two counts of health care fraud.
Portis, Brown, Butler and Bennett were each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and health care fraud, one count of wire fraud and one count of health care fraud.
Buckhalter and Pruitt were each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and health care fraud.
Additionally, the Justice Department said it intends to file charges against Joe Horn, 47 and Donald "Reche" Caldwell, 40, with conspiracy to commit health care fraud in the Eastern District of Kentucky.
Clinton Portis, Correll Buckhalter among 10 former NFL players accused of defrauding health care program for retired players