In what could arguably be called the greatest foul play in their professional careers, 18 former NBA players were charged in New York federal court for their alleged involvement in a massive health insurance fraud scheme.
Prosecutors said that the former players, plus the spouse of one of the players, were all charged for submitting claims totaling $3.9 million. The accused also managed to receive about $2.5 million through their insurance fraud scheme.
The 18 former players charged by the indictment unsealed yesterday were:
- Milt Palacio
- Sebastian Telfair
- Antoine Wright
- Charles Watson
- Darius Miles
- Ruben Patterson
- Eddie Robinson
- Gregory Smith
- Glen Davis
- Jamario Moon
- Terrence Williams
- Alan Anderson
- Tony Allen
- Shannon Brown
- William Bynum
- Melvin Ely
- Christopher Douglas-Roberts
- Tony Wroten
In addition to the ex-NBA players, Desiree Allen – Tony Allen’s wife – was also charged.
According to prosecutors, Terrence Williams – onetime shooting guard for the Houston Rockets and the Nets – had purportedly orchestrated the scheme. The named players allegedly engaged together in a scheme to defraud the NBA’s insurance plan by submitting fraudulent insurance claims for reimbursement for medical or dental services that were never rendered. The scheme ran from 2017 to 2020, the indictment said.
As the alleged ringleader, Williams recruited other participants into the scheme by offering false invoices to support their fake insurance claims. He allegedly also aided his co-conspirators in obtaining false letters of medical necessity. Prosecutors also said that in one instance when a player did not pay a kickback, Williams purportedly impersonated a plan manager in an email and pretended to indicate that there was a problem with the player’s invoice.
The indictment said that Williams allegedly first submitted a fake medical claim for $19,000 in chiropractor services he purported received in California. That fraudulent claim managed to pay Williams $7,672, and he later began to recruit others to perpetrate the scheme.
For his “services,” Williams allegedly received at least $230,000 in kickback payments from 10 other players, the indictment said.
Prosecutors suggested that some of the medical claims made by the ex-players were identical, which made the claims immediately look suspicious. Some of the claims as part of the scheme also led to questionably large reimbursements. The indictment noted that four of the former players were each paid over $200,000 after claiming to have visited the same chiropractor Williams had.
Each of the defendants was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud and wire fraud. Williams was additionally charged with aggravated identity theft. Officials said that the conspiracy count carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years.
The New York Times reported that lawyers for many of the players could not be immediately identified for comment.
CBS Sports said that Milt Palacio, a current assistant coach for the Portland Trail Blazers and one of the former players charged, was placed on administrative leave by the team.