A group of 18 former NBA players was charged with attempting to defraud the NBA’s Health and Welfare Benefit Plan of $4 million.
The defendants all face charges of conspiracy to commit health care and wire fraud. Officials report 16 of the 18 accused players were in custody as of Thursday afternoon.
The players include Terrence Williams, Alan Anderson, 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. Additionally, Anthony Allen and his wife, Desiree Allen, were charged.
U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss told reporters they committed “flagrant violations of law.”
Strauss described 34-year-old Seattle native Terrence Williams as the “scheme’s linchpin.”
Federal prosecutors in New York claim Williams, who spent four seasons in the NBA, submitted false claims to the league’s health care plan. He allegedly supplied false invoices to other players to support the fraudulent claims. In return, Williams received kickback payments that totaled a minimum of $230,000.
Williams is also facing a charge of aggravated identity theft. When he was not paid for his false claims, the indictment claims William impersonated a plan administrator, called those involved and said there was a problem with the claim.
The former player ultimately collected $2.5 million of the $4 million worth of claims.
“This (health care) industry loses tens of millions of dollars a year to fraud,” Michael Driscoll, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York Field Office, told NBC News. “These costs are then passed down to business and customers. That’s a fraud we take very seriously.”
The health care plan reimburses “certain medical expenses” incurred by “eligible active and former NBA players, their spouses, and other dependents that are no covered by a player’s primary insurance carrier” in order to “to give additional coverage to eligible NBA players’ existing medical coverage,” according to the indictment,
The indictment said the claims included medical and dental services that were not provided. In one instance, Davis, Wroten and Allen all claimed to have had crowns on the same six teeth on May 11, 2016.
Wroten and Allen also filed for root canals that were supposedly done on the same 13 teeth on the same day — Sept. 6, 2018.
“The fraudulent invoices were created by a chiropractic office in Encino, California, two dentist offices in Beverly Hills, and a wellness office in Washington state. The indictment named none of the offices allegedly involved and they were not charged,” reports ABC News.
The players will be in FBI custody until they appear in various courtrooms across the country. Then, they will be brought to New York for arraignment.