Former University of Florida and retired NFL quarterback Shane Matthews will serve three months in prison for his involvement in a $20 million health care fraud scheme with former teammate and UF linebacker Monty Grow.
Matthews, who played for the Gators from 1990 to 1993 and spent 14 years in the NFL, was sentenced Jan. 29 after pleading guilty on Aug. 17, to one misdemeanor count of causing a drug to be incorrectly branded and is scheduled to report to prison by June.
The conviction stems from Matthews’ involvement with MGTEN, Grow’s marketing company, which defrauded the government insurance program TRICARE that provides health insurance to the military, veterans and their families.
MGTEN worked to recruit sales representatives to refer hundreds of patients, insured with TRICARE, to Patient Care America pharmacy in Pompano Beach. In return, Grow, the salesmen, the marketing team and patients received “kickback” payments from the pharmacy.
Miles Kinsell, Matthews’ attorney, wrote in an email that Grow contacted Matthews in 2015 to offer him a position as a “pharmaceutical marketing representative.”
“I took the position, which I had no reason to believe was anything other than a legitimate part-time job,” Matthews said in an email.
During the approximate four months he worked for Grow, Matthews was paid more than $400,000 to recruit additional salesmen. He must now pay it all back in restitution.
In spring 2016, Matthews wrote that authorities informed him that Grow’s company was under investigation for a scheme to receive “kickbacks” on the sale of prescription medicines.
“Stunned by this revelation, I immediately cooperated with the authorities and offered to give back every cent of my compensation,” Matthews wrote.
While Matthews will spend three months in prison, Grow faces up to 20 years for his conviction of a scam recruiting patients to insist on expensive drug formulas and other products from a south Florida compounding pharmacy. He was also convicted of conspiring to receive and pay kickbacks and money laundering.
“This was a pyramid scheme. [Grow] took advantage of these folks and he made millions,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Larsen during closing arguments, according to The Miami Herald. “The bottom line is, these people signed up because they were paid [kickbacks],”
Matthews said he accepts full responsibility for his involvement and hopes to share his experience with future students he coaches so they don’t make similar mistakes.
“The punishment of a brief incarceration pales in comparison to the embarrassment this has caused me, my family, my friends and the Gator Nation,” Matthews wrote in an email.
Matthews served as an assistant coach for the Gainesville High School football team.
Jackie Johnson, Communications and Community Initiatives director for Alachua County Public Schools, said he is not currently employed by the school.
“Because of the ‘seasonal’ nature of his position as a football coach, his employment with the district technically ended when the season was over, which means he would have to apply again with the district for a coaching position,” Johnson said. “However, under School Board policy, he could not be hired while he is undergoing any court-ordered sanctions, including, for example, probation.”
Matthews also was suspended from his position as a co-host for the Ackerman and Matthews program, a daily sports radio show. The show airs weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon on ESPN Gainesville 98.1 WRUF, which, along with WUFT, is within the Division of Media Properties at the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications.
“This comes, first of all, as a shock and a surprise to all of us who care about Shane,” co-host Brady Ackerman said. “He’s been a friend for 30 years. We’ve done a lot of fun things together. He’s more than just a co-host on a radio show.”