Former Washington Redskins players face federal charges for allegedly defrauding the NFL's health insurance program for retired players.
Federal charges against 10 former players of multiple NFL teams were announced Thursday morning. Former Redskins players Clinton Portis, Carlos Rogers, Robert McCune and John Eubanks are among those charged.
The participants in the scheme stole more than $3.9 million and treated the health care plan "like their own personal ATM," Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski said at a news conference.
"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,” he said.
The ex-players allegedly submitted claims for pricey medical equipment they never bought, including ultrasound machines designed for doctors' exams of women, hyperbaric oxygen chambers and electromagnetic therapy devices designed for use on horses.
Prosecutors say players recruited other players into the scheme by offering to submit fraudulent claims in exchange for kickbacks and bribes.
The Justice Department launched an investigation after someone spotted the irregular claims.
Prosecutors allege the players targeted the Gene Upshaw NFL Player Health Reimbursement Account Plan, which was established as part of a collective bargaining agreement in 2006. 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.
By stealing from this plan, the ex-players stole from teammates in need, prosecutors said.
Portis, who is a contributor to NBC4's "Redskins Showtime," played for the Redskins from 2004 to 2010. The McLean, Virginia resident, 38, was known for his whimsy off the field, taking on alter egos in interviews.
Here's the full list of players charged:
- Fredrick Bennett, 35, of Port Wentworth, Georgia
- Ceandris Brown, 36, of Fresno, Texas
- Correll Buckhalter, 41, of Colleyville, Texas
- James Butler, 37, of Atlanta, Georgia
- John Eubanks, 36, of Cleveland, Mississippi
- Robert McCune, 40, of Riverdale, Georgia
- Clinton Portis, 38, of McLean, Virginia
- Etric Pruitt, 38, of Theodore, Alabama
- Carlos Rogers, 38, of Alpharetta, Georgia
- Tamarick Vanover, 45, of Tallahassee, Florida
Additionally, prosecutors said they plan to charge Joseph Horn, 47, of Columbia, South Carolina, and Donald "Reche" Caldwell, 40, of Tampa, Florida.
Stay with News4 for more details on this developing story.