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10 former NFL players, including former AU player, charged with defrauding health care program

10 former NFL players, including former AU player, charged with defrauding health care program

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The Justice Department charged 10 former NFL players with defrauding a health care program for retired players of nearly $4 million, according to court documents. The Department also said it intends to file charges against two other players as well.

After an FBI investigation, the Justice Department filed charges Wednesday morning in the Eastern District of Kentucky against Robert McCune, John Eubanks, Tamarick Vanover, Ceandris Brown, James Butler, Frederick Bennett, Correll Buckhalter, Etric Pruitt, Clinton Portis and Carlos Rogers.

Rogers played defensive back for Auburn from 2001-2004. He was the ninth pick overall by the Washington Redskins in the 2005 NFL Draft.

The government also intends to charge former NFL wide receivers Joe Horn and Reche Caldwell with conspiracy to commit health care fraud.

The players allegedly submitted false claims to the Gene Upshaw NFL Player Health Reimbursement Account Plan for reimbursement for medical equipment - such as hyperbaric chambers, cryotherapy machines and ultrasound machines - costing between $40,000 and $50,000. The players charged recruited others into their scheme by offering to submit false claims in exchange for "kickbacks" and bribes that ranged up $10,000, according to the indictments. The players fabricated documents, including invoices and prescriptions, to execute the plan, according to the indictments.

The players filed $3.9 million in false claims, and between June 2017 and December 2018, the health plan paid them more than $3.4 million on those claims, according to the court documents.

"The expensive medical equipment described in the Reimbursement Request Forms that the Defendants submitted or caused to be submitted to the Plan were never purchased or received from the Participant, and the invoices from medical equipment companies, letters from health care providers, and prescriptions from health care providers accompanying the Reimbursement Request Forms were all fabricated," the indictment reads.

In a statement, assistant attorney general Brian Benczkowski said, "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. 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 Opelika-Auburn News staff contributed to this report. 

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