Wed. May 18th, 2022

Eighteen former NBA players have been accused of illegally pocketing about $ 3.4 million by cheating the league’s health and welfare plan in a scam that authorities said involved in demanding fictitious medical and dental expenses.

“The defendants’ playbook involved fraud and deception,” U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said at a news conference after FBI agents across the country arrested 15 ex-players and one of their wives in a three-year conspiracy that authorities say started in 2017.

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According to an indictment returned in federal court in Manhattan, the former players teamed up to defraud the supplementary coverage plan by making fraudulent claims for reimbursement of medical and dental procedures that never happened.

Strauss said prosecutors have travel records, email and GPS data proving that the ex-players were sometimes far from the doctor and dentist’s office at the time they were allegedly being treated.

In one case, she said, a former player was playing basketball in Taiwan when he allegedly got root canals and $ 48,000 crowns on eight teeth at a dental office in Beverly Hills, California in December 2018.

The indictment stated that the scheme was implemented from at least 2017 to 2020, when the plan – primarily funded by NBA teams – received false allegations totaling approximately $ 3.9 million. Of that, the defendants received about $ 2.5 million in fraudulent proceeds.

Strauss said each defendant made false claims for reimbursement that ranged from $ 65,000 to $ 420,000.

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

Michael J. Driscoll, the head of New York’s FBI office, said the case demonstrated the FBI’s continued focus on uncovering health care fraud that costs the health care industry tens of billions of dollars a year.

Strauss said the conspiracy was led by Terrence Williams, who began his career as a first-round pick in the NBA Draft in 2009. The indictment states that he submitted $ 25,000 in fraudulent claims to the November 2017 plan for chiropractic. The claims led to over $ 10,000 payout to Williams.

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

At least 10 of the former players paid setbacks totaling over $ 300,000 to Williams, according to court documents. A lawyer who has previously represented Williams declined to comment.

What was then the New Jersey Nets, Williams chose as No. 11 in the 2009 draft. He went on to play with four franchises – Nets, Boston, Houston and Sacramento – over four seasons as a role player, averaging 7.1 points per game. Match. He was dropped from Boston two days after his 26th birthday in 2013 and has not appeared in the league since.

Among other defendants was Tony Allen, a six-time all-defensive team pick and member of the 2008 champion Boston Celtics. His wife was also indicted. Tony Allen was not remanded in custody Thursday afternoon.

For the most part, however, the accused ex-players had apprentice careers that played for several different teams and never reached anywhere close to the huge star or salary that top players command.

Still, the 18 players earned $ 469 million in their NBA career on the field without counting outside income, endorsements or whatever anyone may have done to play abroad.

Strauss refused to speculate on their motives or financial situation, saying it would go beyond the facts of the indictment.

Another former player accused of the scheme was Sebastian Telfair, a one-time star in New York who was heavily hailed as a pro, though his eight-franchise NBA career never brought the star some had expected.

The defendants also included four NBA champions. Glen Davis, along with Allen, was part of that 2008 title team in Boston. Shannon Brown won two championships with the Los Angeles Lakers, and Melvin Ely won a title with San Antonio in 2007.

Among others charged, Anthony Wroten, Ruben Patterson and Darius Miles were the only players to average double figures for their NBA careers.

Written an average of 11.1 points in 145 career matches. Patterson averaged 10.7 points per game. Match with six different teams. Miles, election No. 3 in the draft 2000, averaged 10.1 points per. Match and played with four different franchises.

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