More than a dozen NBA veterans — including former Coney Island high school star and ex-Los Angeles Clipper Sebastian Telfair — have been charged with defrauding the sports association’s health plan out of millions of dollars, Manhattan federal prosecutors announced Thursday.
The indictment accuses 18 former ballers of ripping off $4 million from the NBA’s Health and Welfare Benefit Plan, which provides additional coverage to eligible active and retired players.
The defendants allegedly submitted “false and fraudulent claims for reimbursement of expenses for medical and dental services that were not actually rendered,” according to court papers.
The scheme was allegedly orchestrated by ex-New Jersey Net shooting guard Terrence Williams, who recruited other retired athletes and supplied them with the bogus invoices and letters for reimbursement in exchange for at least $230,000 in kickbacks, the indictment charges.
But Williams’ phony documentation raised some red flags — particularly a pair of 2019 letters that were supposedly from a chiropractor and were submitted by two defendants in the case.
“[The] letters are unusual in several respects: they are not on letterhead, contain unusual formatting, have grammatical errors, and one of the letters misspells a purported patient’s name,” the indictment states.
In another glaring discrepancy, ex-Chicago Bulls power forward Gregory Smith submitted claims for eight root canals and crowns supposedly performed at a Beverly Hills dental office on Dec. 20, 2018, when he was out of the country that entire month, playing basketball in Taiwan.
Similarly, ex-Boston Celtics power forward Ronald Glen Davis, aka Big Baby, allegedly submitted a $27,000 dental claim for work performed at the same dental office — even though he was traveling in Paris on that date.
Among the defendants are 18 former NBA players — including six-time NBA All-Defensive Team member Tony Allen and former Lakers guard Shannon Brown. Allen’s wife, Desiree Allen, is also charged in the scheme.
Telfair, a Brooklyn native, is the cousin of former NBA star Stephon Marbury.
The fraud, which began in 2017, resulted in a $2.5 million windfall for the defendants, court papers allege.
None of the 18 people named in the indictment could immediately be reached for comment.