Eighteen ex-NBA players, including Ronald Glen “Big Baby” Davis, were arrested and charged this week with defrauding the Health and Welfare Benefit Plan in the NBA of almost $4 million.
Federal agents said he figured out a way to steal funds from the supplemental health plan for retired and active NBA players.
The former players have been accused of engaging in healthcare fraud from 2017 to 2020 for medical and dental services they didn’t purchase, per the federal indictment in federal court in the Southern District of New York.
Davis also roped in at least 10 other former NBA players to participate in the scheme. According to federal records, the false claims total approximately $3.9 million and players received nearly $2.5 million in illegal payments.
Terrence Williams Was The Alleged Ringleader
According to the federal indictment, Terrence Williams, who was a first-round draft pick in 2009 by the New Jersey Nets, was the ringleader of the fraud.
He allegedly encouraged other basketball players to make up invoices for false claims in exchange for kickbacks. It’s estimated Williams received more than $200,000 in kickbacks from the former NBA players. If he is convicted, he will be required to pay restitution to the healthcare program.
The fraudulent invoices were from a chiropractor and dentist in Southern California.
Williams allegedly helped three players – Antoine Wright, Charles Watson, and Davis – to make phone letters of medical necessity to justify some of the services they requested.
The former Nets star also was accused of pretending to be someone who handled the healthcare plan claims. Impersonating healthcare workers is a separate state charge.
Some of the phony claims included a $19,000 bill for chiropractic services he never got and received $7,652 in reimbursement.
Some of the phony documents and medical necessity forms were noticed because they had non-standard formatting and grammatical errors. They also were sent on exact dates from different offices.
Federal agents said if the documents had looked real, they might have gotten away with the fraud.
Another case involved ex-Chicago Bull Gregory Smith submitting claims for several root canals and crowns done at a dentist’s office in Beverly Hills in 2018 when he played in Taiwan. He also claimed to have crowns put on the same six teeth when he was out of the country.
Also, Davis turned in a $27,000 dental bill for work done at the same California office when he was in aris.
Some ex-NBA players were told to repay what they received from the healthcare plan after it was found out the claims were phony. Some repaid, but others didn’t. When they didn’t pay back the NBA healthcare plan, the feds got involved.
Most Players Were Active In NBA In 1990s And 2000s
Most of the NBA players indicted played in the league in the 1990s and 2000s. Two, Davis and Tony Allen, played for the Boston Celtics when they won the NBA title in 2008.
Allen, 39, was one of the NBA’s best defensive players and will have his number retired soon by the Memphis Grizzlies.
Others were significant prospects whose careers didn’t reach their potential, including Sebastian Telfair and Darius Miles, who were brought into the NBA after high school.
Several charged players played part of their NBA careers in the New York City area, including Shannon Brown with the New York Knicks and Antoine Wright and Chris Douglas-Roberts with the New Jersey Nets.
Other players had brief famous moments, such as Milton Palacio, who hit the winning shot in a 2000 game against the Nets. In addition, Ruben Patterson had a knack for slowing down LA Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant.
Former High School Star Telfair Has Had Troubled History
Telfair, a cousin of NBA star Stephon Marbury, was on magazine covers in New York City and touted as one of the country’s best high school players in the early 2000s. However, he had several legal problems during his NBA career with the Celtics and Portland Trailblazers.
Telfair pleaded guilty to illegal handgun possession in 2008 and received three years probation. He was also sentenced to 3.5 years in federal prison for handgun possession related to an arrest two years before. Telfair was released from prison in 2012 and this is his first brush with the law since.
The other players charged in the healthcare fraud were: William Bynum, 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.
Wroten had an average of 11 points in 145 total games, while Patterson averaged almost 11 points with six different teams. Miles was the #3 pick in the 2000 draft and averaged 10 points per game with four teams.