More than a dozen former NBA players have been charged in New York federal court in an alleged multi-million-dollar health insurance fraud scheme to rip off the league’s benefit plan, according to an indictment unsealed in the Southern District on Thursday, reports multiple news sources, including NBC and CNN.
The 18 former players named in the indictment include alleged scheme ringleader Terrence Williams, selected 11th overall in the 2009 NBA draft by the then-New Jersey Nets, six-time NBA All-Defensive Team member Tony Allen, former Lakers Guard Shannon Brown and Ronald Glen Davis, who played for the Boston Celtics, Orlando Magic and Los Angeles Clippers over the course of his career.
Allen’s wife, Desiree Allen, is the only woman charged in the indictment.
Those indicted face charges of conspiracy to commit health care and wire fraud as well as aggravated identity theft. By late morning, 16 of them were in custody after arrests in a dozen locations nationwide. The FBI said “this remains an ongoing investigation,” though it was not clear if more arrests were expected.
According to the grand jury indictment, the defendants allegedly engaged in a widespread scheme from at least 2017 up to around 2020 to defraud the NBA Players’ Health and Welfare Benefit Plan by submitting fake reimbursement claims for medical and dental services that were never actually rendered.
In some cases, the players who submitted the alleged false claims weren’t even in the United States at the times they allegedly received the treatments. They allegedly filed fake invoices saying they had to pay for the phantom procedures out of pocket.
Those allegedly fraudulent claims totaled about $3.9 million, from which the defendants got about $2.5 million in fraudulent proceeds, the indictment alleges.
Williams allegedly orchestrated the years-long scheme and recruited other NBA health plan participants to assist by offering them fake invoices to support their claims. He allegedly received at least $230,000 in kickback payments from 10 other players in return for providing the alleged false documentation.
The 34-year-old Williams also allegedly helped three co-defendants — Davis, Charles Watson Jr. and Antoine Wright — obtain fake letters of medical necessity to justify some of the services on which the false invoices were based.
Williams also allegedly impersonated an individual who processed plan claims at one point in furtherance of his alleged scheme.
Among the false reimbursement claims described in the indictment is a $19,000 claim that Williams filed for chiropractic services he allegedly never had and for which he received $7,672.55 in reimbursement. Williams also allegedly obtained a template for a fake invoice designed to appear as if it had been issued by the office.