A one-time NBA all-star pleaded guilty Friday to serving because the linchpin in a sprawling scheme that bilked the league’s medical health insurance plan out of $5 million.
Terrence Williams, 35, a first-round draft pick from Louisville who spent six seasons within the NBA with the Nets, Houston Rockets, Sacramento Kings, and Boston Celtics, admitted to providing his teammates with fake invoices to submit phony claims in exchange for enormous kickbacks between 2017 and 2021.
Williams is considered one of 18 former NBA players, including Coney Island’s Sebastian Telfair, who prosecutors indicted in October for collecting the crooked payouts for medical and dental services they never received.
The National Basketball Players’ Health and Welfare Profit Plan provides services to current and former players and their families.
“Williams led a scheme involving greater than 18 former NBA players, a dentist, a health care provider, and a chiropractor, to defraud the NBA Players’ Health and Welfare Profit Plan of tens of millions of dollars. Williams also impersonated others to assist him take what was not his — money that belonged to the Plan,” said U.S. Attorney Damian Williams.
Williams, of Seattle, Wash., was remanded to the federal Bureau of Prisons’ custody while on pretrial release in May after prosecutors accused him of threatening a witness within the case.
He allegedly emailed an unnamed witness to say they were “talking method to[o] f[—]ing much” and warned them to “shut the f[—]k up.” In one other missive, he said, “me spitting in your face is strictly what you’ll see,” in line with federal authorities.
In pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit health care and wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, the retired Boston Celtic admitted to receiving about $230,000 in kickbacks. Amongst those he recruited were doctors in California and Washington, who sent him their offices’ medical invoices to fill out with lies.
The scheme Williams masterminded was unsophisticated, in line with the feds, with participants often putting little effort into making fake documents look real. Counterfeit doctors’ letters submitted to the NBA healthcare plan were often riddled with typos, presented on pages without letterhead, and had misspelled names.
In other slip-ups, players confused bogus injuries and billed for services in states during times the NBA knew they hadn’t traveled.
Williams is the sixth person charged within the indictment to achieve a plea take care of prosecutors. The Justice Department charged everyone but him with one count of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud. Telfair, of Brooklyn, maintains his innocence together with two others.
Prosecutors charged three medical professionals — William Washington, Keyon Dooling, and Aamir Wahab — a health care provider, a basketball guard, and a dentist, respectively, in a superseding indictment in April.
Williams is back in court for his sentencing on Jan. 25 and faces as much as 20 years on the highest count. His plea agreement also requires he pay the NBA healthcare plan $2.5 million and forfeit greater than $653,000 to the federal government. His lawyer David Stern didn’t immediately return a call in search of comment.
Two NBA representatives didn’t immediately reply to requests for comment.
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