A grand jury in New York has convicted former NBA players of bilking the basketball league’s health care plan of millions of dollars while trying to recruit other players to join the scheme.
Among those found guilty were Ronald Glen “Big Baby” Davis, who played eight seasons in the NBA and won a championship in 2008 with the Boston Celtics, and William Bynum, who last played in 2015 for the Washington Wizards.
According to federal prosecutors, Davis and the other players conspired with California dentist Aamir Wahab and William Washington, a doctor in Washington state, between 2017 and 2021 to submit fake medical and dental bills for reimbursement, even though the services were not actually done.
“While many of the more than 20 defendants convicted in this case were well-known NBA stars, their conduct was otherwise a typical fraudulent scheme designed to defraud the NBA’s health care plan and net the defendants over $5 million in illicit profits,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement Wednesday, adding that “despite notoriety or success in sports or any other field, no one is exempt from criminal charges if they engage in fraud.”
Terrence Williams, who played four seasons in the league, was sentenced in August to a decade in prison as the ringleader of the scheme.
Bynum, Davis and the NBA didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.
NBA’s health care plan
The NBA offers a supplemental health care plan for active and former players — along with their spouses and other dependents — that pays certain medical expenses that a primary health plan provider would not cover. The plan is paid for by revenue generated from each of the league’s 30 teams. Members of the plan are asked to submit a medical claim to the league and certify that the claim does not have false or misleading information.
Federal prosecutors charged Davis and other players of healthcare fraud and wire fraud conspiracy in April 2022. Under Williams’ plan, former players Keyon Dooling and Alan Anderson were in charge of recruiting other former players to submit fraudulent medical claims, prosecutors said in an unsealed indictment.
Dooling and Anderson offered to provide players with fake invoice paperwork in exchange for payments, prosecutors alleged.
The basketball players’ conviction this week suggests that health care fraud is a growing issue in professional sports. In September 2021, a group of former NFL players‘s health care plan. Former star Clinton Portis and other retired players submitted $3.9 million in false claims, with $3.4 million of that amount paid out between June 2017 and December 2018, federal prosecutors said at the time.