Former Florida linebacker Monty Grow was convicted on federal fraud, kickback and money laundering charges Monday in Miami and faces up to 20 years in prison for running what prosecutors called a pyramid scheme designed to defraud the government insurance program that covers military veterans and their families. Grow made $20 million in less than a year from the arrangement, which involved compound prescription drugs prescribed to patients who used the government’s TRICARE insurance program, before his arrest.
Grow, 46, will be sentenced in April. But he wasn’t the only former Gator convicted for his involvement in the scheme. Shane Matthews, who starred at quarterback at Florida in the early 1990s, pleaded guilty last week to a misdemeanor charge of misbranding a drug while held for sale. Matthews, who spent 14 seasons in the NFL, was sentenced to serve three months in prison and to pay back the $439,765 he made working with Grow.
Grow’s attorneys told The Miami Herald that their client is innocent and that they will appeal the verdict. Matthews’s attorney, Tim Jansen, said the 47-year-old Matthews believed he was a legitimate medical sales representative. Jansen said Matthews immediately offered to pay back the money he’d made after he was contacted by federal officials. Jansen also said Matthews paid about $123,000 in taxes on the revenue from Grow’s company. That amount was not deducted from the restitution Matthews must pay. “He feels like he was duped and misled by his former football teammate,” Jansen said of Matthews. “He believed everything he did was legitimate. He cooperated immediately and offered to pay back everything in full.”
Matthews, who had been coaching high school football in Gainesville, hopes that he can continue coaching after pleading to the misdemeanor. Grow, meanwhile, faces a long stretch in prison. He was accused of forming a network of sales reps that recruited and referred about 700 patients to a Florida company called Patient Care America. Those patients were prescribed expensive compound drugs, which are specially mixed versions of commercial drugs. Prosecutors said many of the patients didn’t need the drugs but only signed on because representatives of Grow’s company either paid their co-payments or paid them kickbacks.
Grow took the unusual step of testifying in his trial, but the jury did not believe him. Instead, the jury believed former Grow co-worker Ginger Lay, who will receive a reduced sentence for testifying against Grow. According to the Herald, Lay made more than $6 million in less than a year working with Grow.