Former Mississippi college player indicted for alleging stealing more than $70 million in Medicare fraud scheme

Published 6:22 am Tuesday, April 16, 2024

A former Ole Miss football player, once celebrated for his athletic prowess, now finds himself at the center of a federal indictment for his alleged involvement in a multimillion-dollar Medicare scam.

The indictment, unsealed in Tampa last week, accuses Rufus French, of Amory, of orchestrating a scheme that defrauded the government healthcare program out of over $70 million.

According to Florida prosecutors, French, a former tight end for the Ole Miss Rebels who later signed with the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers, allegedly played a key role in a fraudulent operation involving kickbacks and bribes for doctors’ orders of medically unnecessary durable medical equipment (DME).

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Court documents reveal that French purportedly managed several DME companies, concealing his involvement while using them to submit fraudulent claims to Medicare for orthotic braces. These braces, obtained through illegal kickbacks and bribes, were allegedly either medically unnecessary, not provided as billed, or ineligible for reimbursement.

Furthermore, French is accused of acquiring Medicare beneficiary information to facilitate the scheme, paying kickbacks and bribes for doctors’ orders, and profiting from selling these orders to suppliers and brokers in exchange for millions of dollars.

The indictment lists a series of charges against French, including conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. If convicted, he could face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for wire fraud and health care fraud charges, as well as an additional five years for conspiracy to defraud the United States.

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri, alongside other federal officials, announced the indictment, emphasizing the collaborative effort between the Justice Department, FBI, and the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General in investigating the case.

As the legal proceedings unfold, the spotlight remains on French, once revered for his athletic achievements, now facing serious allegations of white-collar crime.