Photo by Nathan Shively on Unsplash
Marcus Buckley had a decent NFL career as a linebacker who made his living from helmet-jarring collisions with running backs. His seven-year stint came mostly with the New York Giants.
Yet perhaps Buckley’s biggest and most hard-nosed opponents double-teamed him the hardest — federal prosecutors. The Texas man inflated workers-compensation claims for lingering injuries that dogged him for years after he retired following the 2000 season. Buckley is now benched, spending two years in federal prison.
Insurance fraud is hardly a contact sport. Yet pro athletes can be enmeshed in scams — unwisely as perpetrators, regretfully as victims. They are the tiny minority of pro athletes, and sometimes coaches. Yet their high profile makes their fraud crimes large public spectacles in the news media. To name several sporting convicts:
Claimed built-up stress injuries
Buckley sought money from the Giants’ workers’ compensation insurer for built-up stress injuries — including memory loss — from all the seasons of head-knocking. He settled for $300,000 in 2010, and the case seemed closed.
Not quite. Buckley dipped back into the well, demanding more insurance money. He handed the insurer nearly $1.6 million of forged medical invoices and statements from medical providers for treatment he never received. Buckley also created false collection notices from credit-collection agencies that supposedly were chasing past-due medical bills.
Buckley had help from Sacramento adjuster Kimberly Jones; she issued him the insurance checks. The feds issued Buckley two years in prison in January 2018, and ordered him to repay the stolen insurance money. Jones received two years and nine months, and was ordered to pay $1.6 million in restitution.
Paid kickbacks in $20-million con
Monty Grow played linebacker briefly for the Kansas City Chiefs and Jacksonville Jaguars. His post-NFL career was far more lucrative, until the feds tackled him for a loss.
Grow made millions by paying illegal kickbacks to associates who recruited hundreds of patients to a Pompano Beach pharmacy. That outfit allegedly bilked the federal military health insurer out of $20 million by charging for expensive compound creams that patients typically didn’t need.
Grow was convicted of fraud and kickbacks. He could spend up to 20 years in federal prison when convicted. Former NFL journeyman quarterback Shane Matthews received three months in federal prison for a smaller role as one of Grow’s associates.
Altered date of uninsured collision
Former Major League Baseball pitcher Ted Lilly made a phony damage claim for his RV.
The Edna Valley, Calif. man pitched for six Major League teams over 15 years. He finished up with the Los Angeles Dodgers after signing a 3-year, $33 million contract in 2010.
Lilly damaged his uninsured RV in a collision and obtained a $4,600 repair estimate from a body shop. He bought a policy from Progressive Insurance five days later, then lied that the wreck happened after he bought the insurance. Lilly pleaded no contest and lucked out with two years of probation plus 250 hours of community service and a $2,500 fine.
Falsely claimed jeweled ring stolen
Brent Dwayne Griffith had a brief NFL career as an offensive lineman with the Buffalo Bills. His post-football antics proved offensive as well.
The Benson, Minn. man earned a jewel-encrusted ring when the Bills won the divisional title in 1990. Years later, Griffith claimed someone stole the ring from his home. His homeowners policy covered the seeming theft, paying him $4,780 in 2013.
Griffith and his wife then split up. None too pleased, she told the insurer that Griffith still had the ring. He also cashed the insurance check, made out to both of them, without telling her. The Minnesota state fraud bureau took over and helped convict Benson. He earned a lifetime criminal record, two days in county jail, a fine of $590 and had to pay restitution of $4805 to the Swift County court administration.
Trusting athletes defrauded
Sometimes insurance thievery happens in reverse — people allowed into their inner circle defraud the athletes.
The nanny of a star left wing for the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins looted his family jewelry then filed loss claims for the items after setting her home on fire. Andrea Forsythe stole $12,000 diamond earrings that Chris Kunitz gave to his wife, Maureen, for a wedding anniversary.
Forsythe had the jewelry appraised, then made the insurance claims after her arson fire. She also double-dipped, selling a loose diamond from one earring to a jewelry store. The judge sentenced Forsythe to five years in federal prison for these and other thefts, and ordered her to pay $179,000 in restitution.
Insurance agent Keven D. Webster took premiums from NFL and NBA players, promising to buy them umbrella policies worth $1 million to $5 million. Except the Pensacola, Fla. agent pocketed their money and never bought the promised insurance. A federal judge promised Webster 21 months in prison, and ordered him to repay $144,229.
Coach nabbed in arson plot
Sometimes coaching role models for kids fumble the ball. Anthony Thomas was a longtime sports coach for hundreds of mostly low-income kids in New Orleans. His biggest impact on the kids’ values may be a 17-year federal sentence and serious body burns in a muffed effort to burn down his duplex buildings for sham renter claims.
The drywall contractor hired cronies to sign bogus leases for apartments inside his first building. The leases let Thomas collect for lost rental income after the fire, and allow the cronies to collect for lost possessions. He hired a cohort to burn down the first building, which was a total loss. The sham renters received $13,393 and $28,703 from the insurer, yet they kept few possessions in the apartments.
Thomas cleaned out the house, throwing out the charred junk. He lied to investigators. His cronies then burn down another rental home. The renter, Don Andrew, spread gasoline throughout the front of the house while Thomas was still inside. The fire engulfed Thomas, badly burning him. Thomas received 17 years, and Andrew 20 years.
Ex-Dodgers pitcher Ted Lilly says he plans to go straight. “My actions do not reflect the way I choose to live,” he told the court following his sentencing. “I am very much determined to earn back a reputation of trust and transparency.”
Article Source: PropertyCasualty360