Former NFL Participant Sentenced to Jail for Nationwide Wellness Care Fraud Plan | OPA

A former National Soccer League (NFL) participant was sentenced right now to 5 years in prison for orchestrating a nationwide scheme to defraud a health care gain system for retired NFL players.  

According to court docket files, Robert McCune, 42, of Riverdale, Ga, defrauded the Gene Upshaw NFL Participant Wellbeing Reimbursement Account Program (the Plan). The Program was set up pursuant to the NFL’s 2006 collective bargaining agreement. It presented former gamers, their spouses and their dependents, up to a utmost of $350,000 per participant tax-free of charge reimbursement of out-of-pocket medical treatment charges that were not included by insurance plan.

Courtroom files clearly show that McCune submitted phony and fraudulent promises to the System on his personal behalf and on behalf of dozens of other previous NFL players. Amongst June 5, 2017, and April 12, 2018, he submitted 68 claims for 51 other gamers. The claims generally sought reimbursement of $40,000 or a lot more for costly healthcare machines these types of as hyperbaric oxygen chambers, ultrasound machines and electromagnetic remedy units. None of the professional medical gear explained in the statements was ever procured or been given. In complete, McCune and his co-conspirators submitted around $2.9 million in fraudulent claims to the Prepare.  

Court documents additional present that McCune attained pinpointing data for other contributors in the Strategy, which include the player’s identify, coverage identification range, social stability variety, mailing address and/or date of birth. In exchange for submitting the wrong and fraudulent claims, McCune demanded kickbacks and bribes in the countless numbers of dollars for each individual declare submitted. 

McCune pleaded responsible to a single count of conspiracy to commit well being care fraud and wire fraud, 10 counts of wire fraud, 12 counts of health care fraud and three counts of aggravated id theft.

13 other defendants have been sentenced for their participation in the nationwide plan:

  • 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 and every sentenced to a calendar year and a day in jail
  • Correll Buckhalter, 43, of Colleyville, Texas, was sentenced to 10 months in prison, adopted by 300 days’ home detention
  • Clinton Portis, 40, of Fort Mill, South Carolina, was sentenced to 6 months in prison, adopted by 180 days’ residence detention
  • Etric Pruitt, 40, of Theodore, Alabama, was sentenced to three months in jail, followed by 180 days’ dwelling detention
  • James Butler, 39, of Atlanta, Ga, was sentenced to two months in prison, followed by 180 days’ home detention
  • Carlos Rogers, 40, of Alpharetta, Ga, was sentenced to 180 days’ property detention and 400 several hours of local community company
  • 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, Ga, have been each and every sentenced to 180 days’ household detention and 240 several hours of neighborhood company and
  • Joe Horn, 50,
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A nationwide problem, worse in North Carolina



By Clarissa Donnelly DeRoven

Early in the morning on July 28, 2017 Amber DelVechio’s phone rang. She missed the call, but it woke her up. She rolled out of bed, and began getting ready for her job as an executive assistant at a manufacturing company in Newton, in Catawba County. 

At 16, Madison Workman poses for a photo before going to prom. Credit: Amber DelVechio

Her phone buzzed again. It was the same number: “Are you Madison’s mom?” 

DelVechio typed back, “Yes. Why?” 

Call me back, the stranger responded. 

DelVechio, who has long blonde hair and a soft voice, had grown somewhat accustomed to these sorts of pre-dawn calls. Her 18-year-old daughter, Madison Workman, injured her ankle four years earlier and a doctor prescribed the teenager an opiate-containing painkiller. She’d struggled with substance use disorder since. 

When Workman was actively using drugs, she’d call her mom at odd hours. DelVechio tried to always answer, and she tried to treat the situation with softness when she could. At some point, the mother began to think about the 3 a.m. conversations — and her newly disrupted sleep schedule — as if she had a newborn again. In that scenario, she wouldn’t get angry for having been woken up. She’d roll out of bed, pick up her baby, and pat her on the back. She’d bring warmth and comfort. She’d hope that one day soon they’d both be able to sleep through the night.

DelVechio wrote back, “I’m getting up, I’m getting ready for work. Can I call you on my way to work?” 

The stranger responded, “No. Sorry. Emergency.” 

At that moment, the mother felt something shift. She picked up her phone and called the number. On the other end, a sobbing woman quickly answered, saying, “Somebody left your baby on my porch.”

A nationwide problem, worse in North Carolina

Since Workman died in 2017, more than 10,000 other North Carolinians have also died from drug overdoses, according to state data. Recent numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that over the last year, the crisis grew even worse. More than 100,000 people across the country died of overdoses between April 2020 and April 2021. Over that period, the nationwide overdose death rate rose 27 percent. 

In North Carolina, it grew by 37 percent

While the numbers are staggering, physicians who specialize in addiction medicine, researchers who study drug use and policy, and harm reduction outreach workers say the rise is disturbing, but not surprising. It’s likely the result of many factors, some of which have existed for a long time, overlaid by the nearly two-year-long pandemic. 

First and foremost, experts say, the proliferation of fentanyl is to blame.

“Fentanyl has poisoned our entire illicit drug supply. There is nothing on the street these days that doesn’t have fentanyl in it,” said Michelle Mathis, the executive director and co-founder of Olive Branch Ministry, a faith-based harm reduction organization that serves 10 counties in the  Piedmont foothills.  

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