NEW YORK — Eighteen former NBA players have been charged with defrauding the league’s health and welfare benefit plan out of about $4 million, according to an indictment Thursday in New York.
Federal prosecutors planned a news conference for noon ET Thursday to describe the case that was brought in Manhattan federal court. By late morning, 16 of the defendants were in custody, authorities said.
According to the indictment, the former players engaged in a widespread scheme to defraud the plan by submitting false and fraudulent claims to get reimbursed for medical and dental expenses that were never actually incurred.
The 18 players were among 19 individuals charged in the indictment. It said that the scheme was carried out from at least 2017 to 2020, when the plan received false claims totaling about $3.9 million. Of that, the defendants received about $2.5 million in fraudulent proceeds.
Among those charged was Tony Allen, a six-time all-defensive team selection and member of the 2008 champion Boston Celtics, along with his wife. For the most part, though, the former players had journeyman careers playing for several teams and never reaching anywhere close to the enormous stardom or salary that top players command.
Another former player charged was Sebastian Telfair, a one-time high school star in New York who was highly touted when he turned pro, though his NBA career with eight franchises never brought the stardom some had expected.
Those charged included four NBA champions. Glen Davis, along with Allen, was part of that 2008 title team in Boston, Shannon Brown won two championships with the Los Angeles Lakers, and Melvin Ely won a title with the San Antonio Spurs in 2007.
Among others who were charged, Tony Wroten, Ruben Patterson and Darius Miles were the only players who averaged double figures for their NBA career.
Wroten averaged 11.1 points in 145 career games. Patterson averaged 10.7 points per game with six teams. Miles, the No. 3 pick in the 2000 draft, averaged 10.1 points per game while playing with four franchises.