A TV analyst for Major League Soccer's Philadelphia Union pleaded guilty Tuesday to receiving nearly $500,000 in kickbacks for filling unneeded prescriptions for himself and recruiting others to the scheme.
Peter Pappas, of Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty in federal court in Newark to conspiracy to commit health fraud. Hours later, the Union announced that Pappas' contract had been terminated. The pharmaceutical salesman admitted he was recruited by a marketing company that was paid by pharmacies to refer people whose insurance paid for compounded medication including pain creams, scar creams and vitamins.
Pappas admitted that he recruited others to join the scheme, including people using a health benefit program for service members and their families managed by the U.S. Department of Defense. He admitted that he attempted to recruit beneficiaries from TRICARE because they gave high reimbursements for compounded medication and cream, federal prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said that while he received $481,773 from the marketing company, his employer, TRICARE and other insurance companies lost at least $3.69 million. Pappas faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced on Oct. 25.
The former goalkeeper on the defunct Philadelphia Kixx indoor soccer team has been the Union's TV analyst since 2014. He is a district sales manager for New Jersey-based pharmaceutical company Celgene, according to his LinkedIn page.
On Twitter, he described himself as a "Canadian former soccer pro turned Rx slinger."
Pappas' LinkedIn and Twitter pages were no longer available online late Tuesday afternoon.
Pappas signed the plea deal in May, but Tim McDermott, the chief business officer for the Union, said that the team didn't find out about it until Tuesday.
"After reviewing the situation, we have decided to part ways with Peter Pappas," McDermott said in a statement. "We want to thank him for his hard work and service to the club."
Neither Celgene nor Pappas' attorneys returned messages seeking comment.