New York - A former National Football League (NFL) player was sentenced Wednesday to five years in prison for orchestrating a nationwide scheme to defraud a health care benefit program for retired NFL players.
According to court documents, Robert McCune, 42, of Riverdale, Georgia, defrauded the Gene Upshaw NFL Player Health Reimbursement Account Plan (the Plan). The Plan was established pursuant to the NFL’s 2006 collective bargaining agreement. It provided former players, their spouses and their dependents, up to a maximum of $350,000 per player tax-free reimbursement of out-of-pocket medical care expenses that were not covered by insurance.
Court documents show that McCune submitted false and fraudulent claims to the Plan on his own behalf and on behalf of dozens of other former NFL players. Between June 5, 2017, and April 12, 2018, he submitted 68 claims for 51 other players. The claims typically sought reimbursement of $40,000 or more for expensive medical equipment such as hyperbaric oxygen chambers, ultrasound machines and electromagnetic therapy devices. None of the medical equipment described in the claims was ever purchased or received. In total, McCune and his co-conspirators submitted approximately $2.9 million in fraudulent claims to the Plan.
Court documents further show that McCune obtained identifying information for other participants in the Plan, including the player’s name, insurance identification number, social security number, mailing address and/or date of birth. In exchange for submitting the false and fraudulent claims, McCune demanded kickbacks and bribes in the thousands of dollars for each claim submitted.
McCune pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud, 10 counts of wire fraud, 12 counts of health care fraud and three counts of aggravated identity theft.
Thirteen other defendants have been sentenced for their participation in the nationwide scheme:
- John Eubanks, 38, of Cleveland, Mississippi, was sentenced to 18 months in prison;
- Tamarick Vanover, 47, of Tallahassee, Florida, and Ceandris Brown, 39, of Iowa Colony, Texas, were each sentenced to a year and a day in prison;
- Correll Buckhalter, 43, of Colleyville, Texas, was sentenced to 10 months in prison, followed by 300 days’ home detention;
- Clinton Portis, 40, of Fort Mill, South Carolina, was sentenced to six months in prison, followed by 180 days’ home detention;
- Etric Pruitt, 40, of Theodore, Alabama, was sentenced to three months in prison, followed by 180 days’ home detention;
- James Butler, 39, of Atlanta, Georgia, was sentenced to two months in prison, followed by 180 days’ home detention;
- Carlos Rogers, 40, of Alpharetta, Georgia, was sentenced to 180 days’ home detention and 400 hours of community service;
- Anthony Montgomery, 37, of Cleveland, Ohio; Antwan Odom, 40, of Irvington, Alabama; Darrell Reid, 39, of Farmingdale, New Jersey; and Fredrick Bennett, 38, of Port Wentworth, Georgia, were each sentenced to 180 days’ home detention and 240 hours of community service; and
- Joe Horn, 50, of Columbia, South Carolina, was sentenced to 200 hours of community service.
Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Carlton S. Shier IV for the Eastern District of Kentucky; Assistant Director Luis Quesada of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division; and Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBI’s Miami Field Office made the announcement.
This case was investigated by the FBI and included efforts by various FBI Field Offices and Resident Agencies, including Augusta, Georgia; Birmingham and Mobile, Alabama; Cleveland, Ohio; Chicago, Illinois; Columbia, South Carolina; Dallas and Houston, Texas; Denver, Colorado; Jackson, Mississippi; Lexington, Kentucky; New Orleans, Louisiana; Miami, Jacksonville, and Tampa, Florida; Newark, New Jersey; Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento, and Newport Beach, California; Phoenix, Arizona; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Washington, D.C.
Assistant Chief John (Fritz) Scanlon and Trial Attorney Alexander J. Kramer of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Smith of the Eastern District of Kentucky prosecuted the case.