By Luke Servello, staff writer
Eighteen former NBA players were charged last Thursday with defrauding the league’s health care system of $2.5 million.
The players allegedly filed false medical and dental expenses that totaled nearly $4 million. The NBA health care system is designed to support players while they are in the league as well as through their retirement.
Eighteen former players, led by Terrence Williams, took advantage of this system. Williams started the scheme in 2017 when he filed a $19,000 claim for chiropractic care. The NBA gave him a $7,672 payout for this claim. He then allegedly recruited other NBA players to join him, and the scheme took off from there.
Williams received false invoices from medical offices in both California and Washington, and for four years this was good enough to fool the league. After other players filed false claims, Williams had each player pay him kickbacks.
These kickbacks totaled $230,000. Most of the players involved with this scheme were role players at best in the league.
Perhaps the most notable former player involved was 2008 NBA champion Tony Allen. Along with winning a title in 2008, Allen was named to an all-NBA defensive team six times throughout his career.
He was set to have his jersey retired by the Memphis Grizzlies this year, which now seems unlikely. Allen was a member of the Grizzlies from 2010 to 2017. Allen’s wife was also indicted in the scheme.
Another alleged member of the scheme was Allen’s teammate on the 2008 Celtics, Glen “Big Baby” Davis. Davis averaged eight points and four rebounds per game during his career which spanned from 2007 to 2015.
The defendants were all arrested by the FBI, and the U.S. Attorney’s office will handle the case.
“The benefit plans provided by the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association to our players are critically important to support their health and wellbeing throughout their playing careers and over the course of their lives, which makes these allegations ‘particularly disheartening,’ the NBA said last Thursday.
The league noted that it will cooperate with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in this matter.