Last week Thursday, 19 people were charged in federal court with defrauding the National Basketball Association Players’ Health and Welfare Benefit Plan of almost $4 million. The charges are conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud. One defendant, Terrence Williams, is also charged with aggravated identity theft.
The health and welfare benefit plan for the NBA players was launched in 2017. It offers benefits to retired players who were in the league for at least 3 years., but who are not yet eligible for Medicare. It gives the former players medical, hospital, and prescription drug coverage, and offers players with more years of service lower out-of-pocket costs and possible coverage for spouses and children.
Between 2017 and 2020, the defendants made fraudulent claim submissions for medical and dental services that were never rendered. These false claims totaled nearly $4 million.
The scheme was simple: Williams allegedly came up with the fraud scheme. He got other participants to submit fraudulent claims by giving them fake invoices they could use for their submissions. The fake invoices were from a chiropractor, a dentist, and a doctor with a wellness practice.
Apparently, the services allegedly provided were very expensive, and in many cases, the defendants weren’t even located near the service providers. The location of the defendants was verified with GPS data and documents such as flight records.
Williams received kickbacks in exchange for giving the other defendants the false documentation. He allegedly got $230,000 in kickbacks. He is also charged with the aggravated identity theft because he allegedly impersonated an employee of the plan’s administrator (asking questions about a claim) when one of the former players didn’t pay him the promised kickback.
The former NBA players charged include Terence Williams, Alan Anderson, Anthony Allen, Shannon Brown, WIliam Bynum, Ronald Glen DAvis, Christopher Douglas-Roberts (“Supreme Bey”), Melvin Ely, Jamario Moon, Darius Miles, Milton Palacio, Ruben Patterson, Eddie Robinson, Gregory Smith, Sebastian Telfair, Charles Watson Jr., Antoine Wright, and Anthony Wroten. One spouse of a player, Desiree Allen, was also charged.