Former NBA All-Star Pleads Guilty To Charity Fraud, Identity Theft

Kermit Washington diverted money intended for African children into his personal bank account.

Former NBA All-Star Kermit Washington pleaded guilty to charity fraud and identity theft.
Jack Smith / AP Images

Kermit Washington diverted money intended for African children into his personal bank account.

Former NBA All-Star Kermit Washington pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri on Friday to two counts of making a false statement on a tax return and one count of aggravated identity theft stemming from his role in a charity fraud scheme.

Washington, 66, who currently serves as a representative for the National Basketball Players Association, and co-defendant Patricia Harris, 65, are the latest of 11 people to plead guilty in connection to the scheme.

According to the Department of Justice news release, Washington referred injured basketball players to a San Diego lawyer who filed workmen’s compensation claims in the state of California for the players, sending a referral fee to Washington’s Project Contact Africa charity.

Washington diverted $155,000 of that money to his personal account, according to the news release.

Washington also admitted to accepting $82,000 from a Maryland man for the charity and using it for personal expenses. In addition, he admitted to filing false tax returns both for himself and for the charity.

The guilty plea for identity theft will bring a mandatory two-year sentence for Washington, according to federal guidelines. He also faces a sentence of up to six years on the tax charges.

Today’s charges came as a result of a plea deal. Originally, Washington faced up to 45 years in prison after a federal grand jury indicted him in May 2016 on charges of corrupt interference with internal revenue laws, conspiring to commit wire fraud, obstruction, and aggravated identity theft.

Washington’s guilty plea comes just eight days before the 40th anniversary of an incident that marred an otherwise productive 10-year NBA career.

Kermit Washington appears headed to federal prison after he pleaded guilty to charity fraud and identity theft
  AP Images

On December 9, 1977, Washington, playing for the Los Angeles Lakers, threw a sucker punch that fractured the jaw of Houston Rockets forward Rudy Tomjanovich and nearly cost Tomjanovich his life. The injury shortened Tomjanovich’s career, though he later became a successful NBA coach.

Washington bounced around the league, playing for the Boston Celtics, San Diego Clippers, and the Golden State Warriors.

He had his most productive years with the Portland Trail Blazers, making the NBA All-Star team in 1980.

No sentencing date has been scheduled. Judge Greg Kays ordered the United States Probation Office to conduct a pre-sentence investigation.