Thursday, October 28, 2021

18 ex-NBA players, including 2 former Nuggets charged in $4M health care fraud scheme

NEW YORK — Eighteen former NBA players have been charged with defrauding the league’s health and wellness benefit plan out of nearly $4 million, according to an indictment Thursday in New York.

Federal prosecutors planned a news conference to describe the case brought in Manhattan federal court. Officials said that as of late morning, 16 defendants were in custody.

According to the indictment, ex-players engaged in an elaborate scheme to defraud the scheme by submitting false and fraudulent claims to obtain reimbursement for medical and dental expenses that were never actually incurred.

The 18 players were among the 19 persons charged in the indictment. It said the plan was implemented from at least 2017 to 2020, when the plan received about $3.9 million worth of false claims. Of that, the defendant fraudulently received approximately $2.5 million.

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A request for comment was not immediately returned to the league.

According to the indictment, the scheme developed after Terrence Williams — who began his career as an NBA draft pick in 2009 — submitted $19,000 in fraudulent claims to the plan for chiropractic care in November 2017. The claims led to a payment of $7,672 for Williams.

Phelan M. Ebenhack, Associated Press file

New Jersey Nets guard Terrence Williams, left, drives Orlando Magic guard Vince Carter during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Orlando, Fla., in this Friday, November 5, 2010, file photo. Eighteen former NBA players, including Williams, are alleged to have defrauded the league’s health and wellness benefit plan out of nearly $4 million, according to an indictment Thursday, October 7, 2021.

The indictment says he recruited other former NBA players to defraud the scheme and offered to provide fraudulent invoices from a chiropractor and dentist in Southern California and a wellness office in Washington state.

According to court papers, at least 10 of the former players paid a bribe of about $230,000 to Williams. A lawyer who has represented Williams in the past declined to comment.

What was then the New Jersey Nets selected Williams as number 11 in the 2009 draft. He played with four franchises – Nets, Boston, Houston and Sacramento – over four seasons as a role player, averaging 7.1 points per game. He was pardoned by Boston in 2013, two days after his 26th birthday, and has not joined the league since.

Others charged were Tony Allen, a six-time All-Defensive team selection and a member of the 2008 champion Boston Celtics. His wife was also made an accused. For the most part, however, former players were accused of playing travelman careers for many different teams and never reaching anywhere near the huge stardom or salaries of the top players of the order.

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