An alleged scheme to defraud the National Basketball Association's (NBA) benefits plan by submitting $4 million in false dental and medical claims has led to charges against 18 former players and a spouse, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York.
The defendants were charged with conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud and wire fraud for their involvement in defrauding the NBA Players' Health And Welfare Benefit Plan. The group includes Terrence Williams, a former New Jersey Nets player, and Shannon Brown, formerly a guard with the Los Angeles Lakers team that won the 2009 NBA championship. Williams, who is accused of being the ringleader, also was charged with aggravated identity theft.
"The defendants' playbook involved fraud and deception," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said in a release.
Brown and Williams were arrested on October 7, along with the following defendants:
- Darius Miles, Ronald Glen Davis, Sebastian Telfair, Melvin Ely, and Ruben Patterson, formerly of the Los Angeles Clippers
- Alan Anderson and William Bynum, formerly of the Washington Wizards
- Jamario Moon, formerly of the Cleveland Cavaliers
- Charles "C.J." Watson Jr. and Gregory Smith, formerly of the Chicago Bulls
- Antoine Wright, formerly of the Sacramento Kings
- Anthony Wroten, a former guard with the Philadelphia 76ers
- Desiree Allen, the wife of ex-Memphis Grizzlies player Tony Allen
- Milton Palacio, an ex-Boston Celtics player
Tony Allen; Christopher Douglas-Roberts, also known as "Supreme Bey," formerly of the Clippers; and Eddie Robinson, formerly of the Chicago Bulls, remain at large, according to the U.S attorney's office.
From about 2017 to 2020, the players allegedly submitted $4 million in medical and dental claims for treatments they never received. The scheme resulted in nearly $2 million in losses to the NBA plan, which provides coverage to current and former players and their families.
The reputed orchestrator of the scam, Williams, is accused of recruiting former players by providing them with fake invoices that they could use to substantiate their claims. Williams allegedly used fraudulent invoices from a chiropractic office in California, which were created by people working with him. Also, Williams is accused of obtaining fraudulent invoices from a dentist affiliated with dental offices in Beverly Hills, CA, as well as a doctor in Washington state. The medical and dental offices were not identified.
Except for Williams, the defendants and their families are accused of submitting fake invoices purported to document them as undergoing expensive medical and dental treatments that they never received. In many cases, the players were not near the providers where they allegedly received dental and medical services on the specified dates. Specifically, global positioning system data and documents, including flight records, showed the players were not near the offices they falsely claimed provided them treatment, according to the U.S. attorney's office.
Furthermore, many of the players allegedly paid Williams at least $230,000 in kickbacks for supplying the false documentation supporting their fraudulent claims. Finally, during the course of the scheme, Williams purportedly used the identity of an administrative manager of the NBA's plan.
They face maximum sentences of 20 years in prison. Additionally, Williams faces a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison for the identity theft charge, according to the U.S. attorney's office.