Justice Department officials say 18 former NBA players have been arrested and charged with attempting to defraud the NBA’s Health and Welfare Benefit Plan of nearly $4 million.
NBC News reports that on Thursday (October 7) officials named 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 as defendants in the alleged scam.
The charged face a count of conspiracy to commit health care wire fraud.
“The defendants’ playbook involved fraud and deception," U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss told reporters, according to NBC News. "They will have to answer for their flagrant violations of law.”
Strauss described Williams as the “scheme’s linchpin” who submitted false claims to the league’s health care plan. He allegedly supplied false invoices to support fraudulent claims in exchange for kickback payments that totaled more than $230,000.
Officials say the players submitted $3.9 million in fake claims with $2.5 million of it being paid out. They added that several of the fake invoices and medical necessity forms stood out because “they are not on letterhead, they contain unusual formatting, they have grammatical errors,” according to the indictment.
Michael Driscoll, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York Field Office, said the alleged fraud’s damage affected consumers.
“This (health care) industry loses tens of millions of dollars a year to fraud,” he said. “These costs are then passed down to business and customers. That’s a fraud we take very seriously.”
It wasn’t immediately clear if any of the players have hired defense attorneys.