I know we’re all flawed, beautiful creatures, but there are about 18 of us who are really out here bad—allegedly.
From NBC News:
Eighteen former NBA players were charged with attempting to defraud the NBA’s Health and Welfare Benefit Plan out of nearly $4 million, officials said Thursday.
The defendants include Terrence Williams, Alan Anderson, Anthony Allen, Shannon Brown, William Bynum, Ronald Glen “Big Baby” 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.
Allen’s wife, Desiree Allen, was also named as a defendant.
To add insult to injury, each of these wayward souls is facing counts of conspiracy to commit health care and wire fraud, and as of Thursday afternoon, 16 of the above 18 had been snatched up and taken into custody.
For those wondering how in the hell they pulled off this ill-advised caper, they allegedly defrauded the league’s supplemental coverage plan by submitting fake claims to get reimbursed for dental and medical procedures that never actually occurred. This scheme was the brainchild of Williams, who was kind enough to produce fraudulent invoices for his basketball brethren in exchange for a piece of the pie.
[U. S. attorney for the Southern District of New York Audrey] Strauss said Williams, 34, a Seattle native who spent four seasons in the NBA, was the “scheme’s linchpin,” submitting false claims to the league’s health care plan.
He was accused of supplying false invoices to support the fraudulent claims in exchange for kickback payments that totaled at least $230,000, authorities said.
Prosecutors alleged that when one player didn’t pay Williams, he called the co-defendant pretending to be a plan administrator and said there was a problem with the claim.
Strauss said the hope was to “frighten the player into re-engaging with Williams,” who was also hit with an aggravated identity theft charge in connection with the call.
In total, the defendants submitted $3.9 million in fake claims, and $2.5 million was paid out, officials alleged.
An example of this was the time that Smith, who spent five seasons in the NBA after going undrafted in 2011, submitted claims for IV sedation, a root canal, and crowns that he supposedly received on Dec. 20, 2018, in Beverly Hills, Calif. But ummm...
“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,” Strauss told reporters on Thursday.
There were also instances where these dudes were filing repeated claims on the same damn teeth!
Davis, Allen and Wroten filed for root canals, all supposedly performed on the same six teeth on April 30, 2016, Strauss said. The trio also put in for payments for crowns done on the same six teeth on May 11, 2016, she said.
Wroten and Allen filed for root canals done on the same 13 teeth on Sept. 6, 2018, Strauss said.
Several of the fake invoices and medical necessity forms stood out because “they are not on letterhead, they contain unusual formatting, they have grammatical errors,” according to the indictment.
Translation: These fraud charges are no joke and them boys could be looking at some serious time.
“The defendants’ playbook involved fraud and deception,” Strauss said on Thursday. “They will have to answer for their flagrant violations of law.”
For their sake, I hope these dudes have some fantastic lawyers because otherwise, this won’t end well. Just save yourself the trouble and don’t hit up NBA commissioner Adam Silver for any referrals.