“18 NBA veterans were arrested by federal authorities and are named in the indictment, and all are facing a count of conspiracy to commit health care and wire fraud,” reported Jonathan Dienst of NBC New York. The players allegedly defrauded the NBA’s Health and Welfare Benefit Plan of nearly $4 million. The list of players includes Terrence Williams, Alan Anderson, Anthony Allen, Shannon Brown, William Bynum, Ronald Glen "Big Baby" Davis, Christopher Douglas-Roberts, Melvin Ely, Jamario Moon, Darius Miles, Milton Palacio, Ruben Patterson, Eddie Robinson, Gregory Smith, Sebastian Telfair, Charles Watson Jr., Antoine Wright, and Anthony Wroten. Terrence Williams is reportedly in charge of the operation and is accused of having impersonated an insurance plan employee as part of the scheme. Also, Tony Allen’s wife, Desiree was indicted.
“Terrence Williams recruited NBA players by offering fabricated invoices to be used in false claims in exchange for a kickback. He received at least $230,000 in kickbacks from players.” Williams is also accused of impersonating an individual who processed the health care plan claims. The fake invoices and medical necessity forms had unusual formatting and grammatical errors which made them stand out. The ex-players were told to repay the money they received from the health-care plan once they were told that the claims were false. Some players paid it back and others did not.
Many of these NBA players have faced criminal charges in the past. Sebastian Telfair was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison on gun charges yesterday, Shannon Brown was arrested in 2020 after he was accused of firing a rifle at two people who were looking at homes for sale in suburban Atlanta, Glen “Big Baby” Davis faced 5 years in prison after being arrested with 126 grams of marijuana but paid the $15k fine to avoid jail time in 2019, Terrence Williams was arrested and accused of brandishing a gun at the mother of his 10-year-old son during a visitation exchange in 2013, Ruben Patterson plead guilty of attempted rape in 2001, convicted of misdemeanor assault in 2001, arrested for felony domestic abuse in 2002, and arrested for DUI charge in 2010, and Darius Miles arrested on gun charges in 2011.
Williams and the other ex-players that helped in this operation could be facing up to 10 years in prison for health care fraud and up to 20 years for wire fraud. Sebastian Telfair could have years added to his 3.5 sentence. The other players that have a record could also face harsher penalties. CJ McCollum was elected President of the NBA Players Association (NBPA) in August and already will be facing a major issue before the season even starts. As more information comes out it will be interesting how it affects the NBA, NBPA, and the other programs that they have in effect.
Chris D'Avanzo is a 2L at Hofstra Law School and can be found on Twitter @_chrisdavanzo