Eighteen former NBA players were charged by federal prosecutors Thursday in a fraud scheme related to the league’s health care plan.
According to ESPN, the players were indicted for defrauding the NBA out of nearly $4 million in fraudulent health and welfare benefits. The case was brought to the Manhattan federal court, and prosecutors said they were planning to hold a press conference Thursday to discuss the case details.
ESPN said the indictment described the players’ effort as “a widespread scheme to defraud the plan by submitting false and fraudulent claims to get reimbursed for medical and dental expenses that were never actually incurred.”
From 2017-2020, approximately $3.9 million in false claims were filed to the NBA’s health and welfare benefits plan, the indictment said. The defendants in the case were said to have received $2.5 million in proceeds from the fake claims.
Terrence Williams, a 2009 first round draft pick by the then-New Jersey Nets, allegedly served as the scheme’s ringleader, WMAQ-TV reported.
According to NBC News, “Alan Anderson, Anthony Allen, Shannon Brown, William Bynum, Ronald Glen “Big Baby” Davis, Christopher Douglas-Roberts, Melvin Ely, Jamario Moon, Darius Miles, Milton Palacio, Ruben Patterson, Eddie Robinson, Gregory Smith, Sebastian Telfair, Charles Watson Jr., Antoine Wright, and Anthony Wroten” were the other 17 players indicted.
Desiree Allen, the wife of Anthony, was the nineteenth defendant charged in the scheme, NBC reported.
As the de facto leader, Williams allegedly recruited players who were part of the league’s health plan to help carry out the scheme. He reportedly provided some players with fake invoices to substantiate their fraudulent claims to the NBA, and 10 players paid him at least $230,000 for providing those documents.
In addition, Williams is accused of helping Davis, Watson Jr, and Wright secure fake medical letters supposedly justifying their need for some of the fraudulent health benefits, according to WMAQ-TV.
Williams himself allegedly filed a $19,000 claim for chiropractor services he never received. The NBA sent him $7,672.55 for that claim.
A couple of the players charged were fairly successful during their playing careers. For example, Tony Allen was a six-time NBA all-defensive team member, and he played on the 2008 Boston Celtics team that won an NBA Championship.
Perhaps the most well-liked defendant was Glen Davis, who first gained stardom with his “Big Baby” nickname in college at LSU. He was also on that 2008 Celtics team.
Two other defendants are also former NBA champions — Melvin Ely with the San Antonio Spurs in 2007 and Shannon Brown twice with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Tony Wroten averaged the most career points out of the eighteen defendants with 11.1 points per game average in 145 career games. But ESPN described most of the defendants as having “journeyman careers,” never reaching peak stardom.
Telfair was a high school phenom in New York who was drafted 13th overall by the Portland Trail Blazers in 2004, NBC News reported. Yet his NBA career came to be defined by inconsistency as he bounced around between eight different NBA franchises.
Darius Miles was drafted third overall by the Los Angeles Clippers in 2000. He was named to the first-team NBA All-Rookie team that year, but his overall career was mediocre and featured a 10.1 career points average.
WMAQ said prosecutors are still seeking “any and all property, real or personal, that constitutes or is derived, directly or indirectly” to the alleged fraud.
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