Glen Davis # 0 of the Los Angeles Clippers against the Houston Rockets in the second game of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2015 NBA Playoffs on May 6, 2015 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.
Bill Baptist | National Basketball Federation | Getty Images
Eighteen former NBA players, including former Celtics and Clippers player Ronald Glen “Big Baby” Davis, were arrested on charges of defrauding the NBA’s Health and Welfare Benefit Plan of nearly $ 4 million.
The ex-players are accused of filing false claims for reimbursement for medical and dental services not actually purchased from around 2017 to 2020, according to an indictment in federal court in the southern borough of New York (SDNY).
These false claims amounted to approximately $ 3.9 million, according to the prosecution. Players received a total of approximately $ 2.5 million in fraudulent receipts, with each receiving only $ 65,000 to $ 420,000.
“[The scheme] causes considerable damage to the health economy. We take this very seriously, “said SDNY US Assistant Attorney Michael at a press conference Thursday.
The FBI arrested 16 of the defendants in 12 counties across the country Thursday morning, said Michael Driscoll, assistant director of the FBI’s New York branch.
One defendant, former Portland Trail Blazers player Sebastian Telfair, will later be brought before an SDNY judge today, Strauss added. The remaining players are introduced to the judges in their detention areas.
The FBI and the New York Police Department’s Health Care Fraud Task Force are investigating the plan, Strauss said.
Terrence Williams # 55 of the Boston Celtics handles the ball during the game against the New York Knicks in the fourth game of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals during the 2013 NBA Playoffs on April 28, 2013 at TD Garden in Boston.
Chris Elise | National Basketball Federation | Getty Images
The NBA’s Health and Welfare Benefit Plan provides additional coverage in addition to existing medical care for eligible active and former NBA players and their families, Strauss said. It is funded primarily through contributions from NBA teams.
Terrence Williams, ranked 11th overall in the 2009 NBA draft of the then New Jersey Nets, was accused of being the alleged leader of the scheme to defraud the scheme.
Williams reportedly recruited other NBA players by offering fake invoices to be used in exchange for paying kickbacks to him for false claims. According to the indictment, Williams received at least $ 230,000 in kickbacks from the players.
When a defendant failed to pay the bogus documentation in kickbacks, Williams allegedly tried to “scare the player back into engagement” by posing as a health plan claims agent and saying there was a problem, Strauss noted .
Williams is also believed to have helped three of the ex-players – Davis, Charles Watson Jr., and Antoine Wright – get fabricated letters of medical necessity to justify some of the services on which the bogus bills were based.
Several of the falsified medical necessities bills and forms attracted attention because they had “unusual formats, grammatical errors” and were sent on the same date by different agencies, the indictment said.
Pointing out other noticeable flaws in the fraudulent documents, Strauss noted that former NBA player Gregory Smith was filing bills for a root canal in Beverly Hills when he was actually playing basketball in Taiwan at the time.
Some of the false claims also involved identical cases reported on the same day, according to Strauss. For example, three players claimed to have root canals on the same six teeth on April 30, 2016 and crowns on the same six teeth on May 11, 2016.
Some of the former gamblers accused were ordered to repay the health plan proceeds once the allegations were found to be false, the prosecution said. Some did and some didn’t.
Also indicted in the case are: Alan Anderson, a former Washington Wizards and Los Angeles Clippers player; Shannon Brown, who played for the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Los Angeles Lakers; and Tony Allen, a six-time NBA all-defensive team selection.
Allen’s wife, Desiree Allen, is the only woman and non-NBA player charged in the indictment.
The list also includes William Bynum, who spent most of his career with the Detroit Pistons, Christopher “Supreme Bey” Douglas-Roberts, former New Jersey Nets player, Melvin Ely, who played for five NBA teams, and Jamario Moon . who also played for five NBA teams.
Darius Miles, former Los Angeles Clippers and Cleveland Cavaliers player, Eddie Robinson, who played for the Charlotte Hornets and Chicago Bills, Anthony Wroten, who played for the Memphis Grizzlies and Philadelphia 76ers, Milton Palacio, who played for six NBA teams and Ruben Patterson, who also played for six teams, were also charged.
The NBA did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokesman for the southern New York borough did not immediately respond to a request for comment.