‘Ringleader’ of NFL benefit scam sentenced

by mcardinal

Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News


Robert McCune might have had a pedestrian, one might even say forgettable, NFL career; but he will now forever be linked to the game for having orchestrated a nationwide healthcare fraud scheme that ended with dozens of former NFL players convicted on a host of charges.

McCune, who 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, will spend the next five years in prison.

In a sad coincidence this will be slightly longer than the amount of time he played in the NFL. From 2005-2009, McCune played linebacker for the Washington Redskins (now Commanders), Miami Dolphins, Baltimore Ravens, and Cleveland Browns.

McCune’s sentence was lower than the six-to-seven-year sentence prosecutors had sought.

According to USA Today, McCune told Judge Karen Caldwell, “I’m truly sorry for what I did. If there’s any leniency, I can promise you I can make it right.” He later added, “I’m still not physically and mentally right. But I know as long as I’ve got breath in my body, I can make this right. I want to make it right.”

According to court documents, McCune defrauded the Gene Upshaw NFL Player Health Reimbursement Account Plan, which was established to provide former players up to $350,000 in tax-free reimbursements for of out-of-pocket medical expenses.

From June 2017-April 2018, McCune submitted about $2.9 million in for himself and 51 other NFL players. These claims typically sought reimbursement for $40,000 worth of medical equipment that had not actually been purchased. In exchange for submitting the claims, McCune would receive a kickback.  

McCune also obtained identifying information for other participants, which exposed him to identity theft charges.

The Justice Department has compiled a list of athletes who have also been sentenced in connection with McCune’s scheme.

The most prominent names on that list are former Pro Bowl running back Clinton Portis, who played for Washington and  the Denver Broncos, and wide receiver Joe Horn, a four-time Pro Bowler who was inducted into the New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame after a 12-year career that also included stops in Kansas City and Atlanta.

Portis received a six-month prison sentence as well as home confinement, while Horn was sentenced to 200 hours of community service.