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  • Tiffany Rigby

Former NBA players involved in health scam

Eighteen former NBA players were charged with attempting to defraud the NBA's Health and Welfare Benefit Plan. They are being accused of scamming nearly $4 million in health care funds, said officials on Thursday.

The defendants included in the case are Terrence Williams, Alan Anderson, Anthony Allen, Shannon Brown, William Bynum, Ronald Glen Davis, Christopher Douglas Roberts, Melvin Ely, Jamario Moon, Darius Miles, Milton Palacio, Ruben Patterson, Eddie Robinson, Gregory Smith, Sebastian Telfair, Charles Watson Jr., Antoine Wright and Anthony Wroten.

They each face counts of conspiracy to commit health care and wire fraud. By midday Thursday, 16 of the 18 former players had been taken into custody, officials said. "The defendants' playbook involved fraud and deception," Audrey Strauss, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, told reporters. "They will have to answer for their flagrant violations of law."

Strauss said Williams, 34, a Seattle native who spent four seasons in the NBA, was the "scheme's linchpin," submitting false claims to the league's health care plan. He was accused of supplying false invoices to support the fraudulent claims in exchange for kickback payments that totaled at least $230,000, authorities said.

In total, the defendants submitted $3.9 million in fake claims, and $2.5 million was paid out, officials alleged. Several of the fake invoices and medical necessity forms stood out because "they are not on letterhead, they contain unusual formatting, they have grammatical errors," according to the indictment. The NBA officials said it is fully cooperating with the investigation in any way they can.

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