NBA Vets Charged in $4 Million Insurance Fraud Scheme

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US Attorney Audrey Strauss said the indictment accuses 18 former NBA players of defrauding $4 million from the NBA’s Health and Welfare Benefit Plan — which provides additional coverage to eligible active and retired players — by submitting bogus invoices with glaring typos and discrepancies, according to Manhattan federal prosecutors.
More than a dozen NBA veterans have been charged in US federal court in a sweeping alleged health insurance scheme to defraud the league’s benefit plan, according to an indictment released by the US Southern District of New York on Thursday.
Federal prosecutors said ex-NBA player and alleged ringleader Terrence Williams, who played for the Boston Celtics, Orlando Magic and Los Angeles Clippers over the course of his career, is accused of "orchestrating" the multi-million dollar scheme and recruiting other players in the health plan.
The former player is said to have allegedly offered fake invoices and letters of reimbursement to the retired players in exchange for $230,000 in kickbacks.
The defendants included six-time NBA All-Defensive Team member Tony Allen and former Lakers guard Shannon Brown. Allen's wife, Desiree Allen, is the only woman charged in the indictment.
Prosecutors claimed that the defendants allegedly submitted “false and fraudulent claims for reimbursement of expenses for medical and dental services that were not actually rendered,” according to court papers.
Amongst the discrepancies asserted, phony documentation submitted by Williams, particularly a pair of letters that were allegedly from a chiropractor, were submitted by two defendants in the case and raised suspicion.
“[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 indictment reportedly states.
Additional glaring discrepancies consisted of ex-Chicago Bulls player Gregory Smith and ex-Boston Celtics power forward Ronald Glen Davis both allegedly submitted costly dental work performed at a Beverly Hills dentist’s office — during a time they found themselves out of the country.
“The former NBA players relied on the submission to the plan of false invoices for chiropractic, dental and wellness services that were never provided,” said Strauss.
“As alleged, travel records, email, GPS data and other evidence show that the defendants who reportedly received medical and dental services on a location at a particular date were often nowhere near the provider’s offices when the claimed services were supposedly provided.”
The fraud, which began in 2017, resulted in a $2.5 million windfall for the defendants, court papers allege.
The defendants are each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit healthcare and wire fraud, and may face up to 20 years in prison, with Williams facing an additional charge of aggravated identity theft for “impersonating” the plan’s administrative manager in a call to intimidate another player who had refused to pay the kickback, according to Strauss.
Former NBA player Sebastian Telfair is currently in custody, and scheduled to be presented in a Manhattan federal court Thursday afternoon, officials said. Fourteen defendants were arrested in nine other states, where they’ll appear before a judge. According to Strauss, three have yet to be taken into custody.
“Thanks to the hard work of our law enforcement partners, their alleged scheme has been disrupted, and they will have to answer for their flagrant violations of the law,” Strauss concluded.
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