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Former Ole Miss football player charged in $70 million Medicare fraud scheme

Rufus French
Rufus French (Photo courtesy of Ole Miss Athletics)

A former Ole Miss football player has been indicted for his alleged role in an over $70 million Medicare fraud scheme involving orthotic braces.

Joel Rufus French, who played for the Rebels from 1996-99 before going on to manage multiple companies specializing in durable medical equipment (DME), is said to have been part of the scheme involving the payment of kickbacks and bribes to obtain doctors’ orders for medically unnecessary equipment.

According to court documents provided by the U.S. Department of Justice, French and his co-conspirators used the DME companies to bill Medicare for foot, ankle, and leg braces that were used for treatment plans deemed unnecessary, not provided as billed, or ineligible for Medicare reimbursement.

French also allegedly obtained Medicare beneficiary information and paid kickbacks and bribes for doctors’ orders for DME. He then generated and sold the doctors’ orders for orthotic braces to suppliers and brokers in exchange for millions in kickbacks and bribes. Finally, French is alleged to have participated in a scheme to launder certain proceeds of his schemes.

French is charged with conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and to pay and receive illegal health care kickbacks, conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. If convicted, he could face up to 25 years in prison as well as a hefty restitution fee.

French, a native of Amory, was an All-American tight end for Ole Miss, finishing his college career with 84 receptions, 814 receiving yards, and four touchdowns. He also spent three seasons in the NFL with the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers.

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