Indictment charges 10 ex-NFL players in healthcare program fraud

Ross Houston
December 14, 2019

Two former Houston Texans players have been indicted on charges of defrauding the NFL's health-care plan.

Aside from submitting false orders for medical equipment, the players are alleged to have created fabricated documents, including invoices and prescriptions, to support the scheme.

Federal prosecutors said that the players created fake invoices for medical equipment they never purchased and submitted claims for reimbursement from a fund that covers out-of-pocket health care expenses for former National Football League athletes.

Ten former NFL players - including Pro Bowler Clinton Portis - have been charged in a "brazen" multi-million-dollar scheme to defraud a health care program for the league's retired athletes, federal authorities announced Thursday. "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". "The expensive medical equipment described on the false and fraudulent claims included hyperbaric oxygen chambers, cryotherapy machines, ultrasound machines designed for use by a doctor's office to conduct women's health examinations and electromagnetic therapy devices designed for use on horses".

Some of the equipment included hyperbaric oxygen chambers, ultrasound machines used by doctor's offices to conduct women's health exams, and electromagnetic therapy devices designed for use on horses, Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski said during a press conference on December 12. He was one of the team's most prominent players in the early 2000's, though he lasted only 10 games once Saints coach Sean Payton was hired in 2006.

Each insurance submission ranged between $40,000 and $50,000 with a total of $3.9 million in fraudulent claims between June 2017 and June 2018, prosecutors said.

McCune is charged with conspiracy, nine counts of wire fraud and nine counts of health care fraud. It provides tax-free reimbursement of out-of-pocket medical care expenses not covered by insurance incurred by former players, their wives and their dependents with a maximum of $350,000 per player.

Prosecutors allege the group's alleged ringleaders, Robert McCune and Cornell Buckhalter would recruit former players by offering to submit fake claims to the healthcare plan. Portis, Brown, Butler and Bennett are charged with conspiracy, wire fraud and health care fraud.

Mark Dycio, an attorney for Portis who has previously represented other Redskins on legal matters, maintained his client's was innocence.

Prosecutors moved to bring charges, in part, because the scheme put the health care plan's tax-exempt status at risk, which could have forced other former players using the plan legitimately to pay more, Benczkowski said.

CNN has reached out to the NFL, the named players and the NFL Players Association for comment.

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