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Former NFL running back Clinton Portis sentenced to prison for fraud

Tom Schad

Jan 6, 2022

Former NFL running back Clinton Portis was sentenced Thursday to six months in federal prison and six months of home detention after pleading guilty in September to conspiracy to commit health care fraud , part of a scheme involving more than a dozen ex-NFL players.

Portis, 40, signed a plea agreement just a few days after a jury could not agree on a verdict at his criminal trial in a U.S. District Court in Kentucky.

As part of the agreement, Portis admitted to participating in a nationwide scheme in which ex-NFL players filed fraudulent reimbursement claims with the Gene Upshaw NFL Player Health Reimbursement Account Plan, which allows former players to seek funds for out-of-pocket medical care that is not covered by insurance.

Portis, who played nine seasons in the NFL from 2002 through 2010, is due to report to prison in March.

According to court records, Portis allowed Robert McCune, a former NFL linebacker, to submit reimbursement claims on his behalf for an oxygen chamber and a cryosauna. Portis received $99,264 from the NFL's plan but never purchased the equipment.

"Portis knew the claims McCune submitted on his behalf were false and fraudulent or was aware of a high probability that that the claims McCune submitted on his behalf were false and fraudulent and deliberately ignored that fact," the plea agreement read.

His crime carried a maximum penalty of 10 years.

ESPN reported the Department of Justice sought a sentence at the higher end of the federal sentencing guidelines of 10 to 16 months, stating in a pre-sentence filing Thursday that it sought a longer sentence because Portis continued to deny his guilt until he faced a retrial following the hung jury. The filing also noted Portis did not pay back money to the plan until shortly before sentencing.

According to the Charlotte Observer , Portis’ defense team urged U.S. District Judge Karen Caldwell to follow some of her earlier decisions in the case and sentence Portis to time served, as she did with Joe Horn, a former All-Pro New Orleans Saints receiver, who was sentenced in November.

Portis was selected by the Denver Broncos in the second round of the 2002 NFL draft and was named the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year at the end of the season. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 2003 with the Broncos but was traded to Washington in the offseason. Portis spent the next seven seasons with the Washington Football Team, returning to the Pro Bowl in 2008. He rushed for 9,923 yards and 75 touchdowns and added 2,018 receiving yards and five touchdowns during his career.

Fifteen former players have pleaded guilty to charges, including Portis and Horn.

The other former players who have pled guilty are Carlos Rogers, Correll Buckhalter, James Butler, Ceandris Brown, John Eubanks, Antwan Odom, Etric Pruitt, Darrell Reid, Anthony Montgomery, Frederick Bennett and Reche Caldwell.

Buckhalter, a former Philadelphia Eagles running back, received a 10-month prison sentence in October, ESPN reported. Others have received sentences of house arrest ranging from six to 10 months, including Bennett, Rogers, Odom, Montgomery and Reid, according to court documents.

Prosecutors allege the ex-players filed for more than $3.9 million in false and fraudulent claims between June 2017 and December 2018.

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