The NBA has a mess on its hands now.
It was reported earlier today by NBC News that 18 former players have been charged by federal authorities with scamming a total of $4 million from the NBA’s Health and Welfare Benefit plan — and they were caught because of grammatical errors and other obvious red flags on their phony paperwork, authorities said.
According to the indictment, the former players, led by ex-Celtic Terrence Williams, conducted a plan to defraud the NBA benefits plan by submitting the terribly-faked medical and dental claims to be reimbursed for those expenses.
Most notable among the players charged are Glen “Big Baby” Davis, Tony Allen, Shannon Brown, Sebastian Telfair, and Darius Miles.
Williams allegedly received at least $230,000 in kickback payments from 10 other players involved, in exchange for providing the fake paperwork.
This man even went as far as to impersonate a claims processor to intimidate a player who refused to pay him a kickback, federal officials allege.
The alleged plot, which lasted from 2017 to 2020, saw plan administrators receive fabricated claims totaling about $3.9 million. The players are accused of receiving about $2.5 million in funds from their fake claims.
Williams, a lottery pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, seems to be the mastermind behind the operation, according to the indictment. He allegedly orchestrated the scheme and recruited other NBA health plan participants to assist in the scam by offering them fabricated invoices that other players could pass off as claims.
Many of the fake invoices and medical necessity forms were peculiar because “they are not on letterhead, they contain unusual formatting, they have grammatical errors” and were sent on the same dates from different offices according to documents associated with the case.
Last month, the NFL had a similar situation with its former players when Clinton Portis, Tamarick Vanover, and Robert McCune pleaded guilty for their roles in a nationwide wellness plan fraud scheme, and could face years in prison.
Unlike the NFL, the NBA doesn’t have a history of withholding medical funds from its former players. With the NFL’s race norming practices and a reputation of trying to hide cases of CTE, the situation for former football players looks a whole lot different than these ex-NBA guys.
Allen was known as one of the NBA’s premier defenders during his career. Davis was one of the most lovable characters in the league while he played and was pivotal in the Boston Celtics’ 2008 championship run.
I’m not going to speculate about what’s going to happen in the future of this case. A huge part of me doesn’t want these men to go to prison, I just want them to not be allowed to receive any money from the benefits plan moving forward and maybe face some sort of restitution.
But play stupid games, win stupid prizes.