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Terrence Williams pleads guilty in scheme to defraud NBA’s health plan

Terrence Williams pleaded guilty to orchestrating a scheme that defrauded the league's health insurance plan of at least $5 million, New York prosecutors announced Friday. (Mike Clarke/AFP)

Former NBA player Terrence Williams, the ringleader of a scheme to defraud the NBA’s health plan, pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft and conspiracy to commit health care and wire fraud, the Department of Justice announced Friday.

“Williams led a scheme involving more than 18 former NBA players, a dentist, a doctor, and a chiropractor, to defraud the NBA Players’ Health and Welfare Benefit Plan of millions of dollars,” U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Damian Williams said in a statement. “Williams also impersonated others to help him take what was not his — money that belonged to the Plan.”

Federal authorities in October charged 18 former NBA players with defrauding the league’s health-care plan out of at least $5 million. From 2017 through 2020, according to the indictment, the players submitted phony invoices to the NBA’s health benefit plan for reimbursements for services they never received from a chiropractor’s office, two dental offices and a “wellness office” that specialized in “sexual health, anti-aging, and general well-being.”

Williams, 35, was a 2009 lottery draft pick who spent four years in the NBA before an extended career overseas. Working with a dentist in California and a doctor in Washington state, Williams created fake invoices and fabricated doctor’s letters he circulated to the other former players in exchange for kickbacks, according to the indictment. The Justice Department said administrators of the health care plan and federal law enforcement caught several red flags, including doctor’s letters containing grammatical errors and misspelled patient names. Some of the players in the scheme submitted invoices for treatment they claimed they received when they were out of state or even out of the country, the indictment said.

Williams recruited several players, including Sebastian Telfair, 37, a former player with the Portland Trail Blazers and seven other teams from 2004 to 2013, and Glen “Big Baby” Davis, 36, who led LSU to the Final Four in 2006 before an NBA career with the Boston Celtics, Orlando Magic and Los Angeles Clippers.

Williams was also found to have impersonated others, as he did on one occasion when he created an email account designed to resemble that of a health plan administrative manager, according to the indictment. Through the account, Williams allegedly tried “to frighten” a co-defendant into paying him a kickback.

While on pretrial release earlier this year, Williams was remanded for texting threats to a witness.

Conspiracy to commit health care and wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Williams’s one count of aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison. As part of his guilty plea, the former Louisville standout agreed to pay $2,500,000 in restitution to the NBA Players’ Health and Welfare Benefit Plan. Williams, who will also forfeit $653,672.55, is scheduled for sentencing in January.

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