Reuters File Photo: On October 7, 2019, the NBA logo appears as people walk past a NBA store in New York City, USA. Reuters / Brendon McDermide
By Jonathan Stampel
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Sixteen former players from the National Basketball Association were charged Thursday with defrauding the league of .9 9 million in health and welfare benefits plans, seeking compensation for medical and dental work that was never done.
The players received 2.5 2.5 million in fraud, according to a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, of which 10 accused ringleaders gave at least 23 230,000 kickbacks to Terrence Williams.
Prosecutors say Williams made false invoices in exchange for kickbacks and helped obtain fake “medical necessary letters” for the three players.
“The defendants were involved in playbook fraud and deception,” U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss told a news conference in Manhattan.
Among the defendants are six-time NBA All-Defensive Team members Tony Allen and Glenn Davis, both of whom won the championship in 2008 with the Boston Celtics.
Other defendants include Brooklyn High School basketball star Sebastian Telfair and Portland Trail Blazers assistant coach Milt Palacio.
Williams played for the New Jersey Net and three other teams from 2009 to 2013.
Defendant’s attorneys could not be immediately identified.
Palacio, who was added to the team’s coaching staff in early August, was placed on administrative leave for further notice, The Trail Blazers reported.
The team said in a statement, “The federal investigation is independent of the Trail Blazer organization and we will not comment further on the outcome of the legal process.”
In a statement, the NBA said it would co-operate with the defendants, calling the allegations “particularly frustrating” because of the importance of its facilities plan to support players’ health after retirement.
The alleged scheme involves two dental offices and a chiropractic office in the Los Angeles area and a wellness office in the state of Washington.
Prosecutors said some shipments showed Allen, Davis and defendant Tony Rotten were crowned with the same six teeth on the same day, and Davis was crowned with eight teeth in Beverly Hills when he was actually in Nevada.
The defendants were charged with conspiracy to commit fraud and healthcare.
Williams was also charged with identity theft for posing as a planning manager, promising to “intimidate” protesters Chris Douglas-Roberts, who did not pay a kickback, to re-engage with him.
Other defendants include Alan Anderson, Shannon Brown, Will Bynam, Melvin Eli, Zamario Moon, Darius Miles, Ruben Patterson, Eddie Robinson, Greg Smith, CJ Watson and Antoine Wright. Allen’s wife Desiri is also a defendant.