The life of an NBA player can be glamorous. You get millions of dollars to play a game, and it comes with fame, advertising deals, free equipment, and a lot more. But if you’re not a superstar, these contracts aren’t nearly as big – and that money can go away pretty quickly.
Sometimes this lack of money turns into desperate austerity measures.
The US Attorney’s Office in Manhattan has indicted 18 former NBA players, led by Terrence Williams, of defrauding a league health insurance fund worth nearly $ 4 million. Tony Allen, Sebastian Telfair and Glen “Big Baby” Davis were also among the indicted players.
The bureau accused the former players of making false claims for medical, dental and other health treatments and being reimbursed for treatments they never received. The players took home a total of about $ 2.5 million.
All players involved have been charged with conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud, which could result in up to 20 years in prison. Williams was also charged with serious identity theft.
According to prosecutors, Williams received fraudulent medical and dental bills from 2017 to 2020. He sent these bills to the other players, who then submitted fake claims to the NBA’s health fund. The plan, which is funded by NBA teams and designed to support the health and wellbeing of players during their game days and after retirement, paid off the claims believing they were real.
Williams earned around $ 230,000 from the defendants and also allegedly checked some claims before they were filed. His identity theft charge comes from pretending to be a plan manager when another player didn’t kick him back.
The Health Fund reimbursed Allen $ 420,075 and Telfair $ 358,356 for chiropractic and dental services they claimed. After realizing the allegations were fraudulent, the Fund retrospectively refused to make payments. Allen paid back everything he received but $ 70,000, while Telfair did not return any money.
In many cases, players filed claims describing the same types of services provided by chiropractors and dentists. Sometimes the doctor’s office notes were written explaining that the players were there to take care of injuries. However, the letters were not always on the official letterhead and contained spelling and grammatical errors, including a player who misspelled his own name. And the players weren’t where they claimed they were sometimes in a different state than where they were supposed to be treated.
The indictment states that the allegations were fake medical expenses valued at $ 65,000 to $ 420,000. With the case pending, the accused players may have to repay the money and face a substantial jail sentence.