Pro soccer TV analyst pleads guilty to drug kickback scheme


NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — 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 to conspiracy to commit health fraud in federal court in Newark. 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 2013. 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.

Neither the Union, Celgene nor Pappas’ attorneys were immediately available for comment.