A total of 18 former NBA players have been charged in federal court for allegedly attempting to defraud the league’s health benefit plan out of approximately $4 million, according to an indictment unsealed in the Southern District of New York on Thursday.
The former players indicted include notable names such as Tony Allen (who was named to the NBA All-Defensive Team six times), Darius Miles, Ruben Patterson, Jamario Moon, Sebastian Telfair and NBA champion Glen “Big Baby” Davis.
The defendants allegedly engaged in a scheme from 2017 through 2020 to defraud the NBA Players’ Health and Welfare Benefit Plan by submitting fake reimbursement claims for medical and dental services that were never actually provided.
The false claims amounted to more than $3.9 million, with the plan paying out $2.5 million.
Terrence Williams, 34, who played for the New Jersey Nets and the Houston Rockets, was the scheme’s ringleader and provided the other players with false invoices, according to prosecutors.
The FBI arrested 16 of the 19 defendants Thursday morning, prosecutors said at a press conference Thursday afternoon, adding the investigation remains ongoing.
All 19 defendants, including the 18 players, have been charged with wire fraud and participating in a conspiracy to defraud the NBA’s health benefits plan. In addition, Williams, whom prosecutors called the “linchpin” of the operation, has been charged with aggravated identity theft for allegedly impersonating a plan employee to pressure a fellow co-conspirator. Over the course of three years, Williams received $230,000 in kickbacks, the indictment claims.
Last month, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that three former National Football League players, including two-time Pro Bowler and former Rookie of the Year Clinton Portis, pleaded guilty for their roles in a nationwide scheme to defraud a health care benefit program for retired NFL players and could face years in prison. The three players (Portis, Tamarick Vanover and Robert McCune), along with seven other defendants, were initially indicted in the Eastern District of Kentucky in December 2019. Since the initial charges were announced, five additional retired NFL players were charged in the scheme. All 12 of the other defendants charged have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud. Portis caused the submission of false and fraudulent claims over a two-month period, obtaining $99,264 in benefits for expensive medical equipment that was not actually provided, according to court documents. Portis and Vanover face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and will be sentenced in January 2022. The DOJ said McCune, who could be facing life in prison, orchestrated the scheme that resulted in approximately $2.9 million worth of fraudulent claims.