Among the 10 retired professional football players accused of defrauding a medical fund for former players are two who grew up in Mobile County.
The defendants facing charges in a federal indictment unsealed Thursday include:
- Eric Pruitt, who starred at Theodore High School before moving on to the University of Southern Mississippi. He played one season in the NFL. Records indicate he still lives in Theodore. He faces a maximum of 20 years in prison if convicted of conspiracy to commit wire and health care fraud.
- Robert McCune, who played at the University of Louisville and then three seasons in the NFL after graduating from LeFlore High School. He now lives in Georgia. In addition to the conspiracy charge, he also faces nine counts of wire fraud and nine counts of health care fraud.
According to the indictment, the defendants in 2017 and 2018 submitted claims exceeding $3.9 million to the Gene Upshaw NFL Player Health Reimbursement Account, set up by the league in 2006 help retired players with out-of-pocket medical expenses not covered by insurance.
The fund paid out more than $3.4 million of the false claims, according to the criminal complaint.
Prosecutors allege that the defendants submitted bogus claims for expensive medical equipment that they neither purchased nor received.
“On more than one occasion, there were claims filed for very expensive equipment that’s used to treat horses, and so when you see something like that as a claims administrator, it tends to draw your attention,” Assistant Attorney General Robert Benczkowski told reporters at a news conference announcing the charges.
Neither Pruitt nor McCune could be reached for comment.
The indictment includes some highly recognizable names, including All-Pro running back Clinton Portis and former first-round draft pick Carlos Rodgers, who played cornerback for Auburn University.
The indictment lists nine different claims totaling more than $400,000 submitted by McCune in 2017 and 2018. The indictment also accuses him of impersonating other plan participants in phone calls checking on the status of the claims.
The indictment describes fabricated documents and certifications signed by plan participants that claims processors received along with the reimbursement requests.
Pruitt and McCune are scheduled to appear in the federal court in Kentucky, where prosecutors filed the charges because a data center that processed the claims is located in Lexington, Kentucky.
Both players enjoyed limited success in the NFL. Pruitt played just one season for the Seattle Seahawks, serving as a third-string defensive back and special teams player in 2005. But he played an important role for the team during Super Bowl XI when injury to a starting safety forced him into action.
Later, Pruitt played for the Mobile Bay Tarpons, an indoor league football team that folded before completing its first season in 2011.
McCune, meanwhile, spent three seasons in the NFL. The Washington Redskins drafted him in 2005. He also played for the Miami Dolphins and Baltimore Ravens. He spent a year on the Cleveland Browns practice squad and payed from 2010 to 2013 in the Canadian Football League.