The U.S. Attorney’s Office charged 19 people, including 18 former NBA players in a nearly $4 million fraud scheme. The players are accused of defrauding the league’s health and welfare benefit plan. The video above shows the announcement of the charges on Thursday.
According to officials, former NBA player Terrence Williams led the fraud scheme, which was carried out from at least 2017 to 2020. Over that period of time, the health and welfare benefit plan received false claims totaling $3.9 million. Of that, the defendants allegedly received about $2.5 million in fraudulent proceeds.
U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss explained how the NBA fraud scheme worked in a news conference. “First, Williams obtained fraudulent medical and dental invoices. Second, he sent those invoices to his coconspirators, other former NBA players,” Strauss said. “Third, the co-conspirators submitted the fraudulent claims to the plan. Fourth, unaware that the claims were fraudulent the plan paid most of defendant’s claims and fifth, in many cases, the defendants paid kickbacks to Williams.” According to Strauss, Williams got “approximately $230,000 in kickback payments from other defendants” in the NBA fraud scheme.
Strauss said prosecutors have travel records, emails and GPS data that prove the ex-players were sometimes far from the medical and dental offices they claimed to be at when they were supposedly getting treated. This includes an ex-player who was allegedly playing basketball in Taiwan when he claimed to be getting $48,000 worth of root canals and crowns at a Beverly Hills, California, dental office.
According to Strauss, 16 of the 19 defendants in the NBA fraud scheme have already been arrested. Among others charged was Tony Allen, a six-time All-Defensive team selection and a member of the 2008 champion Boston Celtics. His wife was the 19th person indicted.
Allen was one of four NBA champions charged. Glen Davis was also a part of that 2008 title team in Boston. Shannon Brown won two championships with the Los Angeles Lakers, and Melvin Ely won a title with San Antonio in 2007.
Most of the players charged were journeyman. Anthony Wroten, Ruben Patterson and Darius Miles were the only players accused in the fraud scheme who averaged double figures for their NBA career.
The 18 players combined to make $343 million in their on-court NBA careers. This does not count outside income, endorsements or potential earnings from playing overseas.