Locals among 10 former NFL players charged with heath care fraud

Mobile County

Etric Pruitt of Theodore is accused of ripping off a program designed to help former NFL players

MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Two Mobile County natives are among 10 former National Football League players charged Thursday with defrauding a health care benefit program for retired NFL players. Etric Pruitt, 38, of Theodore, is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and health care fraud.

LeFlore graduate Robert McCune has also been charged.

Pruitt’s charges are the least severe among the ten former NFL players facing charges. The most notable former player involved is two time Pro Bowl running back Clinton Portis.

“Ten former NFL players allegedly committed a brazen, multi-million-dollar fraud on a health care plan meant to help their former teammates and other retired players pay legitimate, out-of-pocket medical expenses,” said Assistant Attorney General Benczkowski. “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.”

CBS News reports four of the ten players were arrested today with the others expected to turn themselves in tomorrow. Jail records show the Pruitt was not booked today at either Mobile Metro Jail or at the Baldwin County Correctional Facility where those facing federal charges are often processed.

The allegations claim that more than $3.9 million in false and fraudulent claims were submitted to the NFL Player Health Reimbursement Account Plan, and the Plan paid out more than $3.4 million on those claims to the accused players between June 2017 and December 2018. The indictments charge that the scheme to defraud involved the submission of false and fraudulent claims to the Plan for expensive medical equipment – typically between $40,000 and $50,000 for each claim – that was never purchased or received. The expensive medical equipment described on the false and fraudulent claims included hyperbaric oxygen chambers, cryotherapy machines, 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.

A defensive back, Pruitt prepped at Theodore High School and was All Conference USA at Southern Miss in 2002 and 2003. He played in the 2004 Senior Bowl and was selected in the 6th Round of the 2004 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons. As a member of the Seattle Seahawks, Pruitt played in Super Bowl XL, a 21-10 loss to Pittsburgh.

Jail records show that Pruitt was arrested for driving with a revoked license in Mobile County in 2015, for failure to pay child support in 2015, and driving with a suspended license in 2012.

Other former NFL players charged in the scheme are Portis, former Auburn All American Carlos Rodgers, John Eubanks, Tamarick Vanover, Ceandris Brown, James Butler, Fredrick Bennett, and Correll Buckhalter.

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