HOUSTON (KIAH) — An athletic trainer who acted as the ringleader with eight former NFL players in a scheme to defraud an NFL player trust fund by submitting false claims for medical benefits has pleaded guilty, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced.

Louis Ray, an athletic trainer and owner of Rehab Express, a Galleria-area rehabilitation facility, created fraudulent invoices claiming to perform treatments on the former players from March 7, 2016, to November 2018.

He has repaid $109,305 in restitution and pleaded guilty to a second-degree felony in exchange for five years deferred adjudication. If he does not successfully complete the five years of probation, he can be sentenced to a maximum of 20 years in prison.

The scheme was investigated by the fraud unit of the Texas Department of Insurance in cooperation with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.

“By working together, these players, aided by a trainer who thought he knew how to game the system, stole from their former teammates,” Ogg said. “The Texas Department of Insurance worked hard to expose this scam and get justice for the victims.”

Of the eight former NFL players implicated in the scheme, six have pleaded guilty.

The cases are being prosecuted by Rick Watson, a special assistant district attorney assigned by the Texas Department of Insurance to support the Harris County District Attorney’s Office Financial Crimes Division.

“Fraud against health care plans is a rapidly growing problem,” Watson said. “This plan was created to support former NFL players who are struggling with health issues, and these defendants abused a system that is intended to assist those truly in need.”