Joe Horn pleads guilty to defrauding NFL's retiree health care program

NEW ORLEANS - OCTOBER 15:  Wide receiver Joe Horn #87 of the New Orleans Saints celebrates his first quarter touchdown reception against the Philadelphia Eagles on October 15, 2006 at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Joe Horn could see jail time after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Former New Orleans Saints wide receiver Joe Horn faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud on Thursday.

Horn was among 12 former NFL players charged last week for defrauding the Gene Upshaw NFL Player Health Reimbursement Account of nearly $4 million.

According to the Times-Picayne, court records indicated that he admitted to submitting $149,775 for fake claims in 2018. The reimbursement plan is designed to assist former players with medical expenses that are not covered by insurance. The NFL’s health care insurance plan runs out for players five years after retirement.

Horn and the other retired players were charged with submitting false claims to the NFL, filing prescriptions for medical equipment such as a hyperbaric oxygen chamber, an ultrasound machine and electromagnetic therapy devices meant for horses, according to the Times-Picayne. These machines were never received, and the typical claim asked for amounts between $40,000 and $50,000.

Horn could be seeking lighter sentence

Horn admitted to agreeing with other former players including Tamarick Vanover and Donald Caldwell to submit the fraudulent claims. However, his plea could mean that he is cooperating with federal authorities in hopes of negotiating for a lighter sentence.

Other players charged last week were: Vanover, Clinton Portis, Robert McCune, John Eubanks, Carlos Rogers, Ceandris Brown, James Butler, Fredrick Bennett, Correll Buckhalter and Etric Pruitt.

Horn, 47, spent 12 seasons in the NFL — seven of which were with the Saints. He tallied 1,000-plus receiving yards in four seasons, was selected to four Pro Bowls and is a member of the New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame. He retired after the 2007 season.

Horn will be sentenced in April.

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