Former Saints WR Joe Horn Pleads Guilty to NFL Health Care Scam, Faces 10 Years in Prison

Former New Orleans Saints wide receiver Joe Horn has pleaded guilty for his part in a scheme that tips off a health care program that covers reimbursed medical expenses for retired players according to Michelle Hunter of NOLA.com. Horn was in front of a judge in Kentucky on Thursday and pleaded guilty to "conspiracy to commit health care fraud after admitting that he received $149,775 for fake claims submitted in 2018." He's facing up to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $25,000. However, Horn agreed to a plea that that could give him a lighter sentence since he's cooperating with the authorities.

The health plan included tax-free reimbursements for out-of-pocket medical costs not covered by insurance for former players, spouses and dependents. According to court records, Horn and nine other players submitted fake claims to the administrator, Cigna, which paid out $3.4 million between June 2017 and December 2018. The players would send fake invoices and fake prescriptions for equipment never received. The other defendants in the case are Clinton Portis, Robert McCune, John Eubanks, Tamarick Vanover, Carlos Rogers, Correll Buckhalter, Etric Pruitt, Ceandris Brown and Reche Caldwell.

"This is very much like a typical healthcare fraud scheme. There were two ringleaders," Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski said per CBS Sports. "The second ringleader learned about it from the first. Those individuals then recruited recruiters. Those recruiters would then reach to the former players they knew. So it looks just like a traditional healthcare fraud scheme."

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Horn was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in the fifth round in 1996. He didn't make much of an impact during his four seasons with the Chiefs, but that changed as soon as he signed with the Saints in 2000. In his first season in New Orleans, Horn caught 94 passes for 1,340 yards and eight touchdowns which led to him being named to his first Pro Bowl. He was able to have another Pro Bowl season in 2001 when he 83 passes for 1,265 yards and nine touchdowns.

Horn was a Pro Bowler again in 2002 and 2004. He spent seven seasons with the Saints and posted 523 receptions, 7,622 yards and 50 touchdowns. He spent his final season with the Atlanta Falcons and registered 27 receptions, 243 yards and one touchdown.