A former Philadelphia Eagle is one of 10 ex-NFL players charged with enriching themselves by filing false claims through a program meant to help retired players and their families pay for medical expenses.
Former Eagles running back Correll Buckhalter is charged with receiving bribes and kickbacks for submitting false claims for expensive medical equipment on behalf of others, and recruiting fellow NFL players to join in the scheme, according to a federal grand jury indictment unsealed Thursday.
Some of the fake claims were for equipment such as “hyperbaric oxygen chambers, ultrasound machines designed for use by a doctor’s office to conduct women’s health examinations, and electromagnetic therapy devices designed for use on horses,” the indictment claims.
Buckhalter played for the Eagles between 2001 and 2008. He and his co-conspirators received anywhere from “a few thousand dollars to $10,000 or more” per fake claim, according to federal prosecutors.
The alleged scheme involved the defendants misusing the Gene Upshaw NFL Player Health Reimbursement Account Plan between roughly July 2017 and December of last year. The plan, funded by teams within the league, allows players to earn thousands of tax-exempt dollars for themselves, spouses or dependents per each season played beyond three seasons.
The cash is supposed to be used to cover legitimate medical expenses, with players and their families being reimbursed through the plan, but the defendants’ claims were allegedly fake.
Buckhalter was able to submit players’ fake claims by getting them to give him personal information, including their social security numbers, according to court documents. He allegedly went so far as to impersonate players by calling the phone number on the reimbursement form to check on the status of the claims.
To make the reimbursement forms seem real, Buckhalter and his co-defendants are alleged to have submitted fake letters – purportedly written by health care providers – describing players’ or their families’ use of the equipment, as well as submitting fake prescriptions and fake invoices for proof of purchase of the equipment.
The scheme caused the Gene Upshaw NFL Player Health Reimbursement Account Plan to pay out more than $3.4 million in fake claims, according to federal prosecutors.
Buckhalter is charged with conspiring to commit wire and health care fraud. If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison.
He will make his initial appearance in federal court in Kentucky on Jan. 2, a Justice Department spokesman said. It is not yet known if Buckhalter has obtained an attorney.