18 ex-NBA players charged in $4 mn health fraud scheme

Eighteen former NBA players have been charged with allegedly defrauding the league's health insurance scheme of almost $4 million, New York prosecutors said Thursday.

Houston Rockets' Courtney Lee (L) and Nets' Terrence Williams compete during the Houston Rockets and New Jersey Nets game in the NBA China Games 2010 at the International Sports Arena in Guangzhou on October 16, 2010. (Photo: AFP)

The prosecutors accuse Terrence Williams, who played for the New Jersey Nets and Houston Rockets, of orchestrating the fraud, in which they say he received kickbacks totaling $230,000.

Glen "Big Baby" Davis, who was part of the Boston Celtics side that won the 2008 NBA Championship, and Tony Allen -- a six-time NBA All-Defensive Team member -- were also charged in the scheme that allegedly ran from at least 2017 to last year.

According to the indictment, the accused defrauded the NBA player's health and welfare benefit plan by submitting false reimbursement claims for medical and dental services that had not been carried out.

Prosecutors with the Southern District of New York (SDNY) say Williams recruited other players to the scheme by offering to give them fake invoices to support their fraudulent claims.

He "was the scheme's linchpin," lead prosecutor Audrey Strauss told reporters, adding that he tried to intimidate a player who didn't pay him a kickback by impersonating an employee from the insurance plan.

The indictment alleges that the accused submitted false claims totaling $3.9 million and that the players received about $2.5 million in fraudulent payouts.

Strauss said that in some instances the co-conspirators had submitted false claims for the same root canal treatment on the same teeth on the same day.

The players were all charged with conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud. Williams was also charged with aggravated identity theft.

Other players charged include former Los Angeles Lakers guard Shannon Brown, Sebastian Telfair, who played for several NBA teams including the Cleveland Cavaliers, and ex-Los Angeles Clippers pick Darius Miles.

Allen's wife was also charged. Fifteen of the 19 accused were arrested Thursday around the country with Allen, Christopher Douglas-Roberts, Gregory Smith and Eddie Robinson still at large, the SDNY said.

Telfair was due to appear in court in New York later Thursday.