Boston Celtics legends Glen Big Baby Davis and Tony Allen were both named in charges against 18 former NBA players who attempted to defraud the Health and Welfare Benefit Plan out of $4 million.
The former stars were all arrested by the FBI for the health care scam on Thursday. U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss quipped that, “the defendants’ playbook involved fraud and deception.”
“They will have to answer for their flagrant violations of law,” Strauss continued.
The other defendants included Anthony Allen, Alan Anderson, Shannon Brown, William Bynum, Christopher Douglas-Roberts, Melvin Ely, Jamario Moon, Darius Miles, Milton Palacio, Ruben Patterson, Eddie Robinson, Gregory Smith, Sebastian Telfair, Charles Watson Jr., Terrence Williams, Antoine Wright, and Anthony Wroten.
Tony Allen, nicknamed “The Grindfather,” also had his wife, Desiree Allen, listed as a defendant. Glen Big Baby Davis, Tony Allen, Shannon Brown, and Melvin Ely were all former championship title winners.
The 18 NBA players face charges of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
“This [health care] industry loses tens of millions of dollars a year to fraud,” said Michael Driscoll, assistant director of the FBI in New York. “These costs are then passed down to business and customers. That’s a fraud we take very seriously.”
Terrence Williams, who was drafted by the then-New Jersey Nets in 2009, and then later played for the Houston Rockets and the Boston Celtics before retiring, is said to have been the leader of the scam.
Williams submitted false claims to the league’s Health and Welfare Benefit Plan, supplying fake invoices in exchange for “kickback payments” totaling nearly $230,000. Williams would also fake calls as a plan administrator, and is also charged with identity theft.
Before the arrest, the three-year scheme paid out roughly $2.9 million of the planned $4 million. Authorities were able to uncover the fraudulent plan, however, due to the “sloppy” claims that some of the defendants submitted.
Gregory Smith, a former Houston Rocket center, allegedly submitted claims for a root canal and crowns that he said he received on a visit to a dentist in Beverly Hills on Dec. 20, 2018. Investigators quickly found the claims to be fraudulent after it was revealed that Smith was playing a professional basketball game in Taiwan on that day
“Travel records, e-mail and publicly available box scores showed that he was playing professional basketball in Taiwan that week and did not receive root canals in Beverly Hills as represented in the claim form he submitted,” Strauss said.
Playing for Taiwan’s Super Basketball League, Gregory Smith scored 11 points in a game when he claimed he was getting a root canal in another country.
Several other players, according to Strauss, submitted claims all for the same day and for the same kind of dental procedure. Glen Big Baby Davis, Tony Allen, and Anthony Wroten all claimed that they a root canal surgery on the same six teeth on April 30, 2016. Wroten and Allen also submitted a second claim for root canals two years later on Sep. 6, 2018, for the same 13 teeth.
Williams also submitted many false chiropractor claims that completely left out a name in the “bill to” box. Most of the claims were “not on letterhead,” contained “unusual formatting,” and had “grammatical errors” all throughout, the indictment read.
“The benefit plans provided by the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association to our players are critically important to support their health and well-being throughout their playing careers and over the course of their lives, which makes these allegations particularly disheartening,” the NBA said in an official statement. “We will cooperate fully with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in this matter.”