Manhattan federal prosecutors announced that 18 veteran NBA players were indicted on charges of defrauding the league’s healthcare plan out of millions of dollars on Thursday.
The former ballers schemed $4 million from the NBA’s Health and Welfare Benefit Plan by submitting “false and fraudulent claims for reimbursement of expenses for medical and dental services that were not actually rendered,” court documents allege.
In a racket that was purportedly masterminded by former shooting guard Terrence Williams, who began his professional career with the New Jersey Nets in 2009, before being traded twice and ultimately waived from the Boston Celtics in 2013, then faded into obscurity in foreign leagues before hanging it up in 2015.
Williams recruited former players into the scam and received $230,000 in kickbacks for providing them with falsified invoices and doctors notes for medical care and dental procedures that they never received.
Williams launched the conspiracy in 2017, when he submitted $19,000 in phony chiropractor bills and received a $7,672 payout. He went on to recruit former players who, like himself, never achieved NBA superstardom, or the multi-million dollar contracts that come from being a standout.
Anthony Wroten, Ruben Patterson and Darius Miles were among the eighteen players charged, as were former NBA champions Shannon Brown, Melvin Ely, Tony Allen, ex-Boston Celtics power forward Ronald Glen Davis.
Davis and former Chicago Bull Gregory Smith came under scrutiny from the Benefit Plan, when claims they submitted from the same Beverly Hills dental office were supposedly to have occurred while they were both out of the country in Paris and Taiwan respectively.
The fraudulent documents also raised red flags when Williams’ work became noticeably sloppy. “[The] letters are unusual in several respects: they are not on letterhead, contain unusual formatting, have grammatical errors, and one of the letters misspells a purported patient’s name,” the court filing states.
Throughout the three-year scam, the Benefit Plan received $3.9 million in fake claims and paid out ex-players around $2.5 million in fraudulent gains. As of Thursday, 16 of the former pro-ballers were in federal custody.