ASHBURN, Va. — Former Washington and Denver Broncos running back Clinton Portis has been sentenced to six months in federal prison and six months of home confinement for his part in defrauding a healthcare benefit program for retired NFL veterans.
Portis pleaded guilty to fraud in September following charges that he obtained nearly $100,000 after filing false and fraudulent claims for medical equipment that was not provided, according to court documents.
In a pre-sentence filing Thursday, the Department of Justice said it sought a sentence at the higher end of a recommended 10-to-16 month guideline, given Portis’ offense. The DOJ said it sought a longer sentence because it said Portis continued to deny his guilt until he faced a retrial following a hung jury. The filing also noted Portis did not pay back money to the plan until shortly before sentencing.
Portis was part of a ring of former players who filed false reimbursement claims that totaled about $2.9 million. In 2006, the NFL established the Gene Upshaw Health Reimbursement Account, designed to help retired players pay for medical expenses. The account provides up to $350,000 in benefits per player.
Fifteen former players have pleaded guilty to charges.
Former linebacker Robert McCune, considered by the Department of Justice to be the orchestrator of the ring, pled guilty to 13 counts of health care fraud, 11 counts of wire fraud and three counts of aggravated identity theft. He faces a lengthy jail sentence.
The other former players who have pled guilty are: Joe Horn, Carlos Rogers, Correll Buckhalter, James Butler, Ceandris Brown, John Eubanks, Antwan Odom, Etric Pruitt, Darrell Reid, Anthony Montgomery, Frederick Bennett and Reche Caldwell, who was killed in 2020.
Buckhalter received a 10-month prison sentence in October. Others have received sentences of house arrest ranging from six to 10 months, including Bennett, Rogers, Odom, Montgomery and Reid, according to court documents.
Horn, a former New Orleans receiver, was sentenced in November to three years of probation and at least 200 hours of community service for his role. He obtained $149,775, but has repaid the money.
According to the Department of Justice, Portis faced up to 10 years in prison for his role in the scheme. He was charged with submitting false claims totaling $99,624 in benefits over a two-month span for medical equipment that had not been provided. Along with pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud, Portis agreed to repay the full amount.
Portis, McCune, Eubanks and Rogers spent one year together with Washington in 2006. Portis, who played for Washington from 2004 to 2010, is the franchise’s second all-time leading rusher with 6,824 yards.
Denver drafted Portis in the second round in 2002 and traded him to Washington after the 2003 season — after he had rushed for a combined 3,099 yards in his first two seasons.
Portis rushed for 9,923 yards and 75 touchdowns and caught 247 passes for 2,018 yards and five scores in nine NFL seasons.