Former NBA player Kermit Washington—who had a 10-year career primarily with the Lakers and Trail Blazers but is best known for brutally punching Rudy Tomjanovich in the face—was arrested Tuesday night, after being indicted for allegedly running a charity fraud scheme. According to the Department of Justice, Washington worked with lawyer and NFL Hall of Famer Ron Mix (who plead guilty to felony tax fraud charges on Monday) to siphon money supposedly destined for Africa into his own pocket:
The indictment alleges that Kermit Alan Washington, 64, used a charity he founded and operated, Project Contact Africa (PCA), to defraud donors, eBay and PayPal and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). In order to induce individuals, including former professional athletes, to make donations to PCA, Washington falsely represented that 100 percent of the donations would go to Africa. However, Washington diverted charitable donations from PCA to buy gifts and pay personal expenses, including rent, vacations, jewelry and entertainment.
It is alleged that Washington referred professional athletes to Ron Mix, a former professional football player and an attorney licensed in the state of California, whose practice focused on the filing of workers’ compensation claims on behalf of former professional athletes. In exchange for the referrals, Mix made payments to PCA and claimed those amounts as charitable deductions on his personal tax returns. Upon receipt of these payments, Washington diverted the funds for his own personal benefit. Washington filed false individual income tax returns for 2010 through 2013, failing to report the funds he diverted from PCA and false Forms 990-EZ on behalf of PCA. Washington also falsified PCA’s corporate minutes to obstruct the investigation and used the identity of another individual to perpetrate this scheme.
Washington is charged with “corruptly interfering with the internal revenue laws, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, obstruction of justice and aggravated identity theft,” and if convicted, faces over 40 years in prison and a million dollar fine.