By a Biometrica staffer
Three ex-NFL stars have pleaded guilty to healthcare fraud the Department of Justice (DOJ) said in a media release on Tuesday, Sept. 7. Clinton Portis and Tamarick Vanover, entered their pleas on Sept. 3 while Robert McCune did so on Aug. 24. The former players admitted to participating in a scheme to defraud the Gene Upshaw NFL Player Health Reimbursement Account Plan, the DOJ revealed.
The plan, set up in 2006, provided tax-free reimbursement for out-of-pocket medical care expenses that were not covered by insurance, that were incurred by former players, their spouses, and their dependents, up to a maximum of $350,000 per player.
Portis allegedly submitted false and fraudulent claims on his behalf over a two-month period, obtaining $99,264 in benefits for expensive medical equipment that was not actually provided.
Vanover, a former wide receiver for the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Diego Chargers, is accused of recruiting three others for his scheme and obtaining $159,510 in benefits.
According to court documents, McCune was the main perpetrator in this fraudulent scheme, swindling $2.9 million in benefits, with the program paying out most of the money between June 2017 and April 2018, according to the DOJ.
Portis and Vanover pleaded guilty two days after a trial against them resulted in a hung jury and a mistrial on certain counts against Vanover. They both agreed to repay what they defrauded from the scheme and face a maximum 10 year prison sentence.
“Portis knew the claims McCune submitted on his behalf were false and fraudulent or was aware of a high probability that that the claims McCune submitted on his behalf were false and fraudulent and deliberately ignored that fact,” the plea agreement reads, according to USA Today.
Portis was leading rusher for the Denver Broncos and the Washington Football team in the 2000s, setting several records before he retired in 2012. Later, he faced financial problems, and filed for bankruptcy in 2015. At the time he owed more than $5 million, according to CBS News.
McCune, the third defendant in that trial, accepted all charges against him on the second day of trial. With him pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and healthcare fraud, 13 counts of healthcare fraud, 11 counts of wire fraud, and three counts of aggravated identity theft, he could well spend the rest of his life in prison.
McCune began his NFL career with the Washington Football Team (then known as the Washington Redskins) in 2005 but has also played for the Miami Dolphins, Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns, and the Calgary Stampeders.
He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and health care fraud, 10 years for each count of healthcare fraud, 20 years for each count of wire fraud, and two years for each count of aggravated identity theft.
A total of 10 NFL players were charged with healthcare fraud in Dec. 2019, Reuters reported, adding that the total amount of money involved in these schemes could be as much as $3.4 million.