Eighteen Former NBA Players Charged With Fraud

Crime
[YouTube][Good Morning America]

Damir Mujezinovic

Eighteen former NBA (National Basketball Association) players were charged Thursday with attempting to defraud the league's Health and Welfare Benefit Plan out of nearly $4 million.

Among the defendants are Terrence Williams, Alan Anderson, Anthony Allen, Shannon Brown, William Bynum, Ronald Glen 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 reported by NBC News, Anthony Allen's wife Desiree Allen is also facing charges.

Read more below.

'They Will Have To Answer'

U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York Audrey Strauss said that "the defendants playbook involved fraud and deception."

"They will have to answer for their flagrant violations of law," Strauss stated.

He added that Terrence Williams was the "scheme's linchpin" because he allegedly submitted false claims to the NBA's health care plan and therefore defrauded the league out of millions.

Williams spent four seasons in the NBA, playing for the New Jersey Nets (now Brooklyn Nets, Houston Rockets, Sacramento Kings, and Boston Celtics.

The Scheme

The authorities were able to uncover the scheme due to the defendants' "sloppy work."

Gregory Smith, for instance, submitted claims for IV sedation, a root canal and crowns, but it turned out that he wasn't even in the country when he claimed the procedure took place.

As Strauss explained, "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."

Other player made similar mistakes.

Fraud

Michael Driscoll, assistant director in charge of the FBI's New York field office, said that the bureau will take this case "very seriously."

"This [health care] industry loses tens of millions of dollars a year to fraud. These costs are then passed down to business and customers. That's a fraud we take very seriously."

Sixteen of the 18 former players have already been arrested and face counts of conspiracy to commit health care and wire fraud. It remains unclear for the time being how many of them have hired lawyers.

NBA Responds

The NBA said on its official website that it is collaborating with the investigation and issued a statement.

"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. We will cooperate fully with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in this matter," the league said.

Several NFL players are facing similar charges and could spend years in prison, as NBC News noted.

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