Former NFL running back Clinton Portis pleaded guilty to defrauding an NFL player health reimbursement fund, as part of what prosecutors say was a nationwide scheme that included about a dozen other ex-NFL players.
Portis signed the plea deal on Friday in a U.S. District Court in Kentucky.
The 40-year-old’s plea came a couple of days after the end of his criminal trial, in which the jury could not come to a verdict.
A judge will sentence Portis on Jan. 6, and he could get up to 10 years behind bars.
Court records reveal that in January 2018, Portis let former NFL linebacker Robert McCune file fake reimbursement claims for both an oxygen chamber and a cryosauna on his behalf. Those items totaled $99,264.
Prosecutors said Portis failed to buy those items, but the Gene Upshaw NFL Player Health Reimbursement Account Plan sent him a check for the medical equipment. The league established this health plan after the 2006 collective bargaining agreement to provide tax-free reimbursement of medical expenses up to $350,000 per player.
McCune’s orchestrated fraud led to nearly $3 million in false and fraudulent claims, according to a Department of Justice release. Between June 2017 and April 2018, roughly $2.5 million of fake claims were paid out to ex-players.
McCune could be facing life in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and health care fraud, 13 counts of health care fraud, 11 counts of wire fraud and three counts of aggravated identity theft. He is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 19.
In addition to Portis and McCune, some of the other players include former Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tamarick Vanover, former Philadelphia Eagles running back Correll Buckhalter and former New Orleans Saints wide receiver Joe Horn.
As part of the plea deal, Portis also agreed to pay the money back to the fund.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.