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Ex-Kansas City Chief among former players accused of defrauding NFL health care program

Luke Nozicka, The Kansas City Star on

Published in Health & Fitness

A former Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver was among 10 former NFL players indicted for allegedly defrauding one of the league's health care benefit programs, federal prosecutors said Thursday.

Tamarick Vanover, who played for the Chiefs from 1995 to 1999, is among the defendants alleged to have submitted false claims to a plan created to help former players pay for legitimate, out-of-pocket medical expenses, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

U.S. Attorney Robert M. Duncan Jr., for the Eastern District of Kentucky where two indictments outlining the alleged scheme were filed, said by submitting those claims the former players deprived the plan of "valuable resources to help others meet their medical needs."

Nearly $4 million in fake claims were submitted to the plan established by the league in 2006, more than $3.4 million of which was paid out between June 2017 and December 2018, according to federal prosecutors.

During a news conference in Washington, D.C., Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski said four of the 10 former players were arrested and the other six agreed to surrender to authorities.

Former Washington running back Clinton Portis was also among those indicted.

Some of those charged, including Vanover, recruited other players into the scheme, according to prosecutors.

In a statement, Benczkowski called the alleged scheme 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."

More than 20 FBI field offices assisted in this investigation, prosecutors said.


Vanover, 45, of Tallahassee, Florida, was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and health care fraud, two counts of wire fraud and two counts of health care fraud. It is not his first time in legal trouble.

In February 2000, Vanover pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting the sale of a stolen vehicle that had crossed state lines. By admitting his guilt, The Star reported at the time, Vanover joined a long line of cooperating witnesses in a drug probe that stretched over 27 months and touched at least four states. He was sentenced later that year to four months' confinement.

"I'm truly ashamed of my conduct and sorry for my actions," Vanover said at the time.

Vanover also played for the Las Vegas Posse and the San Diego Chargers.

Federal prosecutors said they have also filed notice that they intend to charge another former Chiefs player in the scheme: Joseph Horn, who played in Kansas City from 1996 to 1999, the Western District of Missouri said on Twitter. Horn is now 47 and lives in Columbia, South Carolina.

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