In 2002, the Denver Broncos continued to dominate with the running game by selecting Clinton Portis in the second round of the NFL draft. During his rookie season, Mr. Portis rushed for more than 1,500 yards, ultimately scoring 17 touchdowns that year.
Today, things are different for the running back. On December 13, Mr. Portis surrendered to authorities after federal prosecutors charged him and 12 other former NFL players with health care fraud. If you know someone facing similar charges, you may want to know how a one-time sensation landed himself in legal hot water.
NFL health care fraud
In 2006, NFL players managed to secure a health care reimbursement fund through collective bargaining. The purpose of the fund is to continue to support the health care needs of players after their veteran coverage expires. The U.S. Department of Justice alleges that Mr. Portis and others used fake documents to submit reimbursement requests for medical equipment they never purchased.
While health care fraud is a common white-collar offense, you should remember that the DOJ has only filed charges in the NFL case and has not secured any convictions. As such, you should presume Mr. Portis and the other players are innocent until proven otherwise.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 created a wide-sweeping program to detect and stop health care fraud. HIPAA’s Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control Program brings together federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, offering a multi-level approach to uncovering possible criminal activity. As such, it is increasingly difficult to get away with defrauding either public or private health care plans.
Clearly, health care fraud is a serious matter. If you know someone facing either an investigation or criminal charges, Mr. Portis’s current situation may be instructive. Put simply, to avoid legal trouble, anyone in a similar circumstance must act diligently to present a complete defense and otherwise assert all his or her rights.