Former NFL and Florida State receiver Tamarick Vanover was sentenced to prison for one year and one day Thursday for his role in defrauding the NFL’s health care reimbursement fund for retired players.
A Lexington, Kentucky, federal judge ruled Vanover, 47, must self-report to a designated federal prison facility by March 22.
Vanover, a Tallahassee resident, tearfully apologized in court for his actions, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.
In a telephone interview with the Democrat Friday morning from Kentucky, Vanover said his role in the scheme has negatively impacted his life.
While court records showed that Vanover's recruiting efforts led to more than $159,000 in fraudulent payouts for those operating the scheme, Vanover stressed he never received any money.
"At no time did the government or the investigation find anywhere that I got money out of this deal," Vanover said. "I never took any money. And I am being sentenced harder than anyone else who did."
Former players involved in the scheme have been ordered to pay restitution for how much money they caused to be lost in fraud. However, prosecutors and the defense couldn’t come to an agreement Thursday on Vanover’s restitution amount, according to the Herald-Leader.
The newspaper also reported that Judge Karen Caldwell believed Vanover’s remorse and regret were authentic and applauded his cooperation in the case. But she still believed a jail sentence was required. She also told Vanover to seek physical and mental treatment while incarcerated.
Vanover, who is scheduled to return to Tallahassee Friday, said he's determined to move forward in life and rely on his faith.
"At first it (sentencing) knocked the wind out of me. I will take it and make it a positive," Vanover said.
Former NFL and Miami running back Clinton Portis, a co-defendant, was sentenced earlier this month to six months in prison for his role in the scheme that netted nearly $2.5 million in fraudulent claims, federal authorities said.
According to court documents, Portis obtained nearly $100,000 after filing false claims for medical equipment that was not provided. A pre-sentence filing noted Portis did not pay back money to the plan until shortly before sentencing.
Portis and Vanover are two of 15 former NFL players who have pleaded guilty to fraud charges, according to reports.
Former linebacker Robert McCune is considered by the Department of Justice to be the orchestrator of the ring. He pleaded guilty to 13 counts of health care fraud, 11 counts of wire fraud and three counts of aggravated identity theft.
He faces a lengthy jail sentence.
Vanover starred at Leon High and FSU (1992-93) and played professionally for seven years with the Las Vegas Posse (1994), Kansas City Chiefs (1995-99) and the San Diego Chargers (2002).
The receiver-return specialist was a freshman All-American in 1992 and a second-team All-American as a sophomore during the Seminoles' national title run. He had 87 career receptions for 1,123 yards and seven touchdowns and averaged 40.2 yards on 13 kickoff returns during his two years at FSU.
Vanover was hospitalized in March 2021 with COVID-19.
Reach Jim Henry at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: Former NFL, FSU receiver Vanover sentenced to prison for role in scheme