On Thursday, eighteen former NBA players were charged with cheating the league's health and welfare benefit plan of $3.9 million by claiming compensation for medical and dental work that was never performed.
Players got $2.5 million in illegal proceeds, according to an indictment filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, with 10 paying at least $230,000 in kickbacks to the alleged ringleader, Terrence Williams.
Prosecutors claim Williams provided phony invoices in exchange for the payments and assisted three players in obtaining bogus "letters of medical necessity."
At a press conference, U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss in Manhattan noted, "The defendants' playbook involved fraud and deception,"
Tony Allen, a six-time NBA All-Defensive Team member, and Glen Davis, who won a championship with the Boston Celtics in 2008, are among the accused.
Sebastian Telfair, a former Brooklyn high school basketball standout, and Milt Palacio, now an assistant coach with the Portland Trail Blazers, are accused.
From 2009 to 2013, Williams was a member of the New Jersey Nets and three other teams.
The defendants' attorneys could not be identified right away.
According to the organization, Palacio, who joined the Trail Blazers' coaching staff in early August, has been placed on administrative leave until further notice.
"The federal investigation is independent of the Trail Blazers organization," the team stated in a statement. "We will have no further comment pending the outcome of the legal process."
The NBA said in a statement that it will cooperate with authorities and that the allegations are "particularly disheartening" given the importance of its benefit schemes for players' health, including after they retire.
Two dentistry facilities, a chiropractic office in the Los Angeles region, and a wellness center in Washington state were allegedly implicated in the alleged fraud.
Prosecutors claim that some invoices show Allen, Davis, and defendant Tony Wroten all getting crowns on the same six teeth on the same day. Davis got crowns on eight teeth in Beverly Hills while he was actually in Nevada.
The defendants were charged with healthcare fraud conspiracy and wire fraud.
Williams was also charged with identity theft for impersonating a plan manager to "frighten" Chris Douglas-Roberts, a defendant who had not paid a kickback, into re-engaging with him.
Alan Anderson, Shannon Brown, Will Bynum, Melvin Ely, Jamario Moon, Darius Miles, Ruben Patterson, Eddie Robinson, Greg Smith, C.J. Watson, and Antoine Wright are accused. Desiree, Allen's wife, is also a defendant.