The daughter of a former NFL player could face criminal charges after allegedly cashing in her father's paychecks after his death.
Constance Helwig-Langlois stands accused of cashing in pension checks paid out by the NFL to her father, a former defense player for the Chicago Bears. John Helwig died in 1994. Following his death his wife, Ruth, continued to receive checks from the NFL retirement plan.
On two occasions, Ruth reported to officials that her husband was still living according to the Associated Press. Ruth Helwig died in 2007, but her daughter Constance continued to cash the checks that were sent. The total of the checks amounts to a little over $200,000 according to the report. Helwig-Langlois was charged with fraud in Detroit on Wednesday.
John Helwig was born in Los Angeles, California and played football for Notre Dame before being drafted into the NFL. He played for the Bears for a total of four seasons according to the NFL, beginning in 1953, before he left the sport although no reason was listed for his departure.
Many people appeared to side with the daughter on the NFL blog, either because the NFL failed to notice their error or because the payments amounted to so "little."
"The guy died in 94 and they are just going after this now? Let her keep the money, the NFLPA should have their $@%! together better then this," one fan wrote on the NFL blog.
"Just doing a quick calculation....this person, committing said fraud, got an annual benefit of $11,764.71," another fan pointed out. "I weep for every former player if that is what they had to live off of."
A number of former NFL players have complained about receiving low pensions in the past. Mike Webster, who made the Hall of Fame for the Pittsburgh Steelers, allegedly died broke and homeless.
"It's a disgrace," Mike Ditka said during a 2007 Yahoo interview. "The owners ought to be ashamed of themselves. The owners are financiers, and they are all about making money. They don't care about the history of the game."
At the time, the NFL had become a $6 billion industry, but was failing to make payouts to older players, according to reports.
"Many older players (especially pre-early 1980s) are suffering financially, physically and, often, mentally and emotionally," the Yahoo report stated. "The problem is that the retirement deals cut back in the day were reflective of the fiscal realities of those times."