Eighteen former NBA players were charged with attempting to defraud the NBA’s Health and Welfare Benefit Plan out of nearly $4 million, officials said Thursday.
The defendants are 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. His wife, Desiree Allen, was also named as a defendant.
Each is charged with conspiracy to commit health-care fraud and wire fraud. As of Thursday’s midday 16 of the former players were arrested, authorities declared.
“The defendants’ playbook involved fraud and deception,” Audrey Strauss, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York spoke to reporters. “They will have to answer for their flagrant violations of law.”
Strauss stated that Williams 34 Strauss said Williams, 34, an Seattle born native who played four seasons with the NBA became an “scheme’s linchpin,” submitting false claims to the league’s health insurance plan.
The accused was accused of supplying fake invoices in support of the fraudulent claims, in exchange for kickbacks that totaled at most $230,000, according to authorities.
Prosecutors claimed that when one player refused to pay Williams the defendant pretending to be an administrator of a plan and claimed there was an issue regarding the demand.
Strauss stated that the goal is that it would “frighten the player into re-engaging with Williams,” who was also charged with an unjustified identity theft charge for the incident.
The defendants filed $3.9 million in fraudulent claims in fraudulent claims, in addition, $2.5 million of that was paid the officials claimed.
The scheme was discovered partly due to the incompetence on the part of defendants police stated.
For instance, Smith, who was a player for the Houston Rockets, submitted claims for IV sedation as well as a root canal, and crowns that he’s alleged to have received in the December. 20th, 2018, treatment for dental issues at Beverly Hills, California, the prosecution claimed.
“Travel records, e-mail and publicly available box scores showed that he was playing professional basketball in Taiwan that week and did not receive root canals in Beverly Hills as represented in the claim form he submitted,” Strauss claimed.
The time was when Smith played in the Taiwan Super Basketball League, and Smith had scored eleven scores to score 11 points for Bank of Taiwan the next day, in an 84-76 defeat in the game against Kaohsiung Jeoutai Technology.
Many players didn’t look at their notes to determine whether they raised alarms by going in the exact identical dental procedures on the same dates, Strauss said.
For instance, Davis, Allen and Wroten applied for root canals, which were all believed to have been done on the same teeth. The procedure was completed on April 30th, 2016 Strauss claimed. The trio also applied the request for payment for crowns placed on the same set of teeth on May 11, 2016 Strauss said.
Wroten and Allen applied for root canals for the 13 same teeth September. 6. Strauss stated.
A number of fake bills and forms for medical need stood out due to the fact that “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, stated that such cases can have negative ripple-down effects on consumers.
“This [health care] industry loses tens of millions of dollars a year to fraud,” said the official. “These costs are then passed down to business and customers. That’s a fraud we take very seriously.”
Davis is one of the most well-known among the accused.
With 6 feet 9 inches tall, and 289 pounds the player was a fan favorite as well as one of the players on the Boston Celtics world title team, which won the title in 2008..
Telfair, the cousin of long-time NBA star Stephon Marbury the basketball legend in China was famous long before he made it to the professional court. He was among his generation’s most famous high school athletes, as well as his team, the Portland Trail Blazers took him at the 13th pick in the year 2004 NBA Draft.
It wasn’t known at the midday hours of Thursday whether any players had retained defense lawyers.
Brown is ex-husband to Grammy award-winning R&B artist Monica. His agent was not available for speak to him on Thursday afternoon.
Family members from Davis and Allen have not responded to messages to inquire about their comments.
The NBA confirmed that it was cooperating.
“The benefit plans provided by the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association to our players are critically important to support their health and well-being throughout their playing careers and over the course of their lives, which makes these allegations particularly disheartening,” the league stated in an official statement.
The month before, former NFL players Clinton Portis, Tamarick Vanover, and Robert McCune pleaded guilty for their involvement in a sweeping health care fraud scheme . They could spend years in prison, according to the Justice Department said.
Portis, Vanover and McCune admitted to fraud in the NFL program designed to cover medical costs not covered by insurance former members and their family The Justice Department said.