Retired New Orleans Saints wide receiver Joe Horn faces up to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty in federal court to filing nearly $150,000 in false medical claims as part of a scheme among former NFL players to defraud their health plan provider.
Horn is scheduled to be sentenced in April.
The 47-year-old four-time Pro Bowl selection admitted to seeking reimbursement in 2018 for medical equipment that he never purchased, including a cryosauna valued at $50,000, according to court documents obtained by the Daily Mail.
Although Horn is from South Carolina, the fraud charges were filed in federal court in Lexington, Kentucky, where other ex-NFL players like former Washington Redskins running back Clinton Portis have also been indicted. The healthcare provider, CIGNA Healthcare data center, is based in Lexington, according court documents.
Retired New Orleans Saints wide receiver Joe Horn faces up to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty in federal court to filing nearly $150,000 in false medical claims as part of a scheme among former NFL players to defraud their health plan provider
A fifth-round pick out of a community college in 1996, Horn started his career with the Kansas City Chiefs, but made a name for himself in New Orleans, peaking in 2004 with 1,399 receiving yards and a career-high 94 catches.
Horn earned nearly $37 million over his nine-year career, according to Spotrac.com.
Justice department prosecutors have alleged that the former NFL 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.
‘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,’ assistant attorney general Brian Benczkowski said.
‘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.’
Ten former NFL players including ex-Washington Redskins stars Clinton Portis (pictured) and Carlos Rogers, have been charged with defrauding the league’s health care benefit program
FBI Special Agent in Charge of the Miami Field Office George Piro is flanked by Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski and U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky Robert Duncan Jr. and U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky Robert Duncan Jr., as they announce charges against 10 former National Football League players
The Justice Department alleges the players submitted nearly $4 million in false claims to the plan, resulting in over $3.4 million being paid out between June 2017 and December 2018.
Other players who were allegedly involved in the scheme include Robert McCune, John Eubanks, Tamarick Vanover, Ceandris (C.C.) Brown, Correll Buckhalter, James Butler, Fredrick Bennett and Etric Pruitt.
Portis, Brown, Butler, and Bennett are all charged with a single count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and health care fraud, one count of wire fraud, and one count of health care fraud.
‘This investigation serves as an illustration of the rampant and deliberate scams against health care plans occurring daily throughout the country,’ said FBI Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the Miami Field Office.
‘In this case, these fraudsters pocketed money from the Gene Upshaw National Football League Health Reimbursement Account Plan that was intended for former NFL players who are ill or infirm. Over 20 FBI field offices participated in this investigation which demonstrates the level of commitment we have to rooting out this type of fraud.’
Justice department 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. The late Upshaw (pictured) was an offensive lineman for the Oakland Raiders before moving on to become executive director of the NFL Players’ Association
Other players who were allegedly involved in the scheme include Ceandris (C.C.) Brown (left), Etric Pruitt (center) and John Eubanks (right)
Former Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tamarick Vanover was charged with the other players
Court papers allege Portis and seven other players submitted claims to be reimbursed for expensive medical equipment. But prosecutors allege they had never purchased or received the medical equipment like oxygen chambers, cryotherapy machines, and electromagnetic therapy devices, all of which can cost up to $50,000 each.
The alleged ringleaders of the operation – including McCune, Eubanks, Vanover, Rogers, and Buckhalter – accepted $10,000 kickbacks from other players involved in the scheme. The defendants allegedly fabricated the necessary documentation for the claims, including prescriptions and other invoices.
McCune and Buckhalter allegedly called the plan’s telephone operator, pretending to be other players to check the status of the fraudulent claims.
A NFL spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The NFL Players’ Association declined to comment.
The indictment filed in federal court in Kentucky alleges they fabricated letters from health care providers about using the medical equipment, fabricated prescriptions that were purportedly signed by healthcare providers and created fake invoices from medical equipment companies in an effort to prove the equipment was purchased.
Fredrick Bennett, who had a brief NFL career before moving on to the CFL, was also charged
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