Former NBA player Kermit Washington—who played for 10 seasons but is chiefly famous for punching Rudy Tomjanovich so hard he nearly killed him—was sentenced to six years in federal prison and fined $967,158 yesterday for his role in an “extensive charity fraud scheme,” per a release from the Justice Department. Washington was indicted in May 2016 for the scheme, and in in November 2017 he pleaded guilty to two counts of filing a false tax return and one count of aggravated identity theft. He faced up to 40 years in prison.
Washington ran a charity operation called Project Contact that claimed to have “touched the lives of over one million Africans in need” through its funding of medical facilities and other support networks. According to the Justice Department, Washington instead took the money he raised and “diverted [it] to personal spending on lavish vacations, shopping sprees, and even plastic surgery for his girlfriend,” as well as “payments...to a former prostitute.” Overall, 11 people were charged in what officials called “one of the largest software piracy schemes” they’d ever prosecuted.
Washington and his fellow defendants apparently sold over $12 million in items through the eBay charity store, which means that eBay lost out on over $900,000 in waived transaction fees. NFL Hall of Famer Ron Mix was also sentenced to time served (the DOJ release doesn’t get more specific than that) for his role in a worker’s comp scheme that funneled “$155,000 in donations to his charity, which were actually illegal referral payments from Mix and his law firm.”