More than a dozen former NBA players are being accused by federal investigators of participating in a multi-million dollar scheme that sought to defraud the NBA's Health and Welfare Benefit plan, according to PEOPLE. Former NBA shooting guard Terrence Williams, who was apprehended in Washington State, is being accused by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the South District of New York of masterminding the nearly $4 million scheme that involved 18 former NBA players.
Williams, 34, is charged with aggravated identity theft, conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The 17 other players and one of their spouses are facing the same charges. The other players named on the indictment are Anthony Allen, Shannon Brown, Ronald Glen Davis, Sebastian Telfair, Davis Miles, Tony Wroten, Ruben Patterson, Alan Anderson, William Bynum, Melvin Ely, Jamario Moon, Milt Palacio, Greg Smith, Antonie Wright, C.J. Watson, Chris Douglas Roberts and Eddie Robinson. Allen's wife, Desiree Allen, is the only one charged who didn't play in the NBA.
Investigators believe the scheme's participants filed close to $4 million in false medical insurance claims. Williams allegedly provided the other NBA players with the fabricated invoices needed to make the illicit medical, chiropractic and dental claims. A little under $2.5 million in claims were paid out, and Williams allegedly received nearly $230,000 in kickbacks from the other defendants.
"The defendants' playbook involved fraud and deception," U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss told reporters during a press conference Thursday, per NBC News. "They will have to answer for their flagrant violations of law." Authorities said that the scheme was uncovered due to sloppy work from the defendants. One example noted by NBC News is Smith, who played for the Houston Rockets, submitted claims for IV sedation, a root canal and crowns that he allegedly received during a dental procedure in 2018.
"Travel records, e-mail and publicly available box scores showed that he was playing professional basketball in Taiwan that week and did not receive root canals in Beverly Hills as represented in the claim form he submitted," Strauss said. Of the 18 NBA players, Davis is among the most well-known defendants. He played in the NBA from 2007-2015 and helped lead the Boston Celtics to an NBA Championship in 2008.