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Pappas pleads guilty to prescription drug kickback scheme

Photo: Earl Gardner

UPDATE: Click here to read a statement from the US Department of Justice reviewing details of the kickback scheme, which Pappas participated in “September 2014 through November 2015.” Click here to see Pappas’ plea agreement, which was signed by him on May 16, 2016. In addition to whatever jail term and fines he receives upon sentencing, Pappas, who as born in Canada, could be “subject to immigration proceedings and removed from the United States by making him deportable, excludable, or inadmissible, or ending his naturalization.” Click here for the information document on the case.

UPDATE: On Tuesday night, the Union announced it had terminated its contract with Pappas, effective immediately. Union Chief Business Officer Tim McDermott said in a statement, “After reviewing the situation, we have decided to part ways with Peter Pappas. We want to thank him for his hard work and service to the club for five years.”

The Associated Press reported on Tuesday that Philadelphia Union color commentator Peter Papas has pleaded guilty in federal court in Newark to conspiracy to commit health care fraud, “receiving nearly $500,000 in kickbacks for filling unneeded prescriptions for himself and recruiting others to the scheme.”

The AP report says Pappas, the former Philadelphia KiXX goalkeeper, “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.”

Union Chief Business Officer Tim McDermott said in a statement, “Earlier today, we were made aware of Peter’s guilty plea with the Department of Justice. At this current time, we are gathering information and evaluating the facts as it relates to the case. At that point, we will have further comment and take the appropriate action.”

According to the AP report, Pappas admitted that among those recruited in participating in the kickback scheme were beneficiaries of the TRICARE health benefit program, formerly known as the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Uniformed Services (CHAMPUS), administered by the Department of Defense.

The report says Pappas “admitted that he attempted to recruit beneficiaries from TRICARE because they gave high reimbursements for compounded medication and cream, federal prosecutors said.”

According to the AP report, Pappas received $481,773 from the unnamed marketing company, with TRICARE and other insurers losing “at least $3.69 million.”

PSP legal analyst Peter Andrews summarized the complicated conspiracy in diagram form on Twitter.

Pappas will be sentenced on October 25. He faces up to 10 years in jail and a $250,000 fine. Based on the plea agreement, the Federal Sentencing Guidelines call for Pappas to be sentenced to anywhere from 57 to 71 months in prison. The exact sentence may be above or below that range, subject to the discretion of the sentencing judge.

Pappas, who has been described as “arguably the best goalkeeper in the history of indoor soccer,” joined the Union gameday broadcast team as color commentator alongside JP Dellacamera in 2013.


  1. Old Soccer Coach says:

    Oh. My. Goodness.
    I wonder why he needed money so badly.
    Please, Mr. McDermott, do NOT take Adam Cann away from PSP.

    • I hear Adam’s phone ringing in Texas.

      • pragmatist says:

        Is it a conflict of interest to be the voice of the Union, as well as part of the backbone of PSP? Or would one help the other?
        Maybe the Union could pay all the guys from PSP and make it worth their time! 😉
        (Just lookin’ out for ya!)

      • One Dave Spadaro is enough, thank you very much. Having Adam leave PSP for the Union would be for the greater good. Having Adam try and skirt the line, trying to work for both, would be for the greater detriment of all.

  2. My wife does legal work related to the healthcare industry and she said that right now the Feds are cracking down hard on exactly this sort of scheme that Pappas just plead out to. Feel terrible for his family – imagine being a young kid and finding out your dad was about to go to jail for the next 4 years at a MINIMUM? Ugh.

  3. John Ling says:

    Damn. I’ve wanted Pappas replaced, but not this way…

  4. el Pachyderm says:

    A fresnel lamp shining the way.

  5. Wow. Amazingly bad news. That’s a lot of money involved. A very large sum. So much that, well…

    New shirt sponsor, anyone?

  6. Timing? Signed plea 5/16. Didn’t tell U. Enters plea 7/19. No statement from his side.

  7. Broseidon says:

    I want an announcer with an accent!! That would be sweet

  8. Wow. A total WTF. I got nothin… smh

  9. el Pachyderm says:

    So …. excuse my ignorance (and I feel this is an important question) was he aware he was doing something wrong?

  10. Lucky Striker says:

    according to that Fed diagram………indeed.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      Indeed. “Filling medically unnecessary Rx”
      Didn’t register the first time I looked at diagram.

  11. der Fussballzuschauer says:

    Ignorance of the law is now an acceptable excuse?

  12. Swartz Culleton Whiner says:

    Peter was a little (OK, a lot) rough at first, but I thought he was steadily improving as an analyst. He’s no Martino, Twellman, or Moreno, but there is a reason they all have national jobs now. Damn….what a bizarre story. I just wanted to read some witty banter about the match on Sunday….I wasn’t expecting this.

  13. A lot of folks on Twitter defend him saying he was ‘a ‘great guy’ who just made some awful decisions. Madoff and Armstrong were also a great guys. Does not excuse what they did. These type of folks just keep on enriching themselves until caught, meanwhile they keep a secret life and appear super nice. Sad that we have so many who are not what they appear to be.

  14. James Lockerbie says:

    I got one word, Disappointed !

  15. Wow there’s a curveball. Sorry for him but happy for fresh blood in the box.

  16. TRICARE beneficiaries are the members of our armed forces and their families. I don’t know the specifics of the case, but if Peter took advantage of them for this scheme to work, than I have no love lost. Absolutely disgraceful.

  17. scottymac says:

    “After reviewing the situation, we have decided to part ways with Peter Pappas. We want to thank him for his hard work and service to the club for five years.”

    Maybe amended to the 3 years and 9 months he worked hard for us and not the time he was defrauding people for pain meds…

  18. He’s not ripping off the vets themselves in this scheme. He’s just ripping off TRICARE. Doesn’t make it any less shocking. I had no idea that he had a day job with a pharma company in the first place.

    Maybe I’m spoiled, but after having Martino, Twellman, and Moreno, Pappas was a major comedown. The person I would love to see replace him is Heather Mitts. Her sideline commentaries were always excellent.

    • Yeah, Pappas was nowhere near as good as Martino, Twellman, or Moreno. But he was WAYYY better than Bob Rigby. After enduring that, Pappas was an upgrade.
      Heather Mitts would be a great replacement. I think she still lives around here. I saw her at an Eagles game last year. I haven’t seen her on TV in a while, but she is (was?) working for Fox Sports (which may be why she left Union broadcast team perhaps?), so I don’t know how that would work out. The Union don’t send announcers to road games, so she wouldn’t ever have to leave her very young children behind.
      I wonder if Danny Califf would be available? He is already beloved by Union fans, and has the gravitas of a career in MLS (which Pappas didn’t have). Of course, I have no idea of he’d be any good at it.

      • Section 114 (Formerly) says:

        Concur that we were incredibly lucky with the first three and I was SOOOOO happy to dump Rigby. Pappas was mediocre, but I was cool with that if he was the price we paid for keeping, and probably paying very well, JPD.
        Didn’t know that was going to lead to criminal conduct by Pappas….
        The most important thing the Union can do is (i) NEVER BRING BACK RIGBY, (ii) Keep JPD, and (iii) get the best they can for the spot.

      • You know, I didn’t mention Rigby because I had blocked him out of my mind so completely. Which is enough of a statement. But it does make me recall why people didn’t complain about Pappas more, even though he was pretty lousy.

  19. The Oenophile says:

    Is nothing sacred anymore?

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