Published: Fri, December 13, 2019
Sport | By Kayla Schwartz

Clinton Portis among retired National Football League players facing federal fraud charges

Clinton Portis among retired National Football League players facing federal fraud charges

Nearly a dozen former NFL players were charged on Thursday in the Eastern District of Kentucky for allegedly participating in a nationwide fraud scheme targeting the Gene Upshaw NFL Player Health Reimbursement Account Plan - which provides ex-athletes of the league, their spouses and dependants with up to $350,000 in tax-free refunds for out-of-pocket medical expenses not covered by their insurance.

Several of the players named allegedly reached out to other former players to engage in in the scheme in return for kickbacks up to $10,000, which means that more indictments may be coming.

According to the indictments, over $3.9 million in false or fraudulent claims were submitted to the Plan, and over $3.4 million was paid out from June 2018 to December 2018.

All 10 defendants are charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and health care fraud based on the accusations that they faxed reimbursement forms for such things ranging from muscle timulator pule massagers to CryoSauna tanks.

The players also fabricated supporting documentation, including bogus invoices from medical supply companies, forged letters and prescriptions from doctors, prosecutors said.

All of the players face up to 20 years in prison, according to TMZ, which also reported that former New Orleans Saints receiver Joe Horn is being investigated as well.

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Two former Houston Texans players have been indicted on charges of defrauding the NFL's health-care plan. "He is completely taken aback by this indictment and will move forward with the process of clearing his good name and those of his fellow National Football League alumni". Some of the equipment included hyperbaric oxygen chambers, cryotherapy machines, ultrasound machines. Health care provider Cigna tipped off investigators to the irregular claims.

Four of the men charged have already been arrested, while six others have agreed to voluntarily turn themselves in to the Department of Justice. Portis, Brown, Butler and Bennett are charged with conspiracy, wire fraud and health care fraud.

Portis, who reportedly earned more than $43.1 million over his nine-year career, was known for wearing colorful costumes, wigs and oversized sunglasses in media interviews. Unlike the other former players in this group, Horn is being charged with a bill of information after agreeing to cooperate with government authorities.

"This investigation serves as an illustration of the rampant and deliberate scams against health care plans occurring daily throughout the country", FBI Special Agent George L. Piro of the Miami Field Office asserted.

The Gene Upshaw NFL Player Health Reimbursement Account Plan was created in 2006 through the collective bargaining agreement. 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.

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