Former NBA player Terrence Williams, once celebrated for his basketball prowess, now faces a grim future as he has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for his role in defrauding the NBA health and welfare benefit plan of more than $5 million.
Williams, who had been on pretrial release, was taken into custody in 2022 due to threats made against witnesses involved in the case.
His conviction comes as a stark reminder that even sports stars are not immune to the consequences of engaging in criminal activities.
Williams’ involvement in this scheme came to light when he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire transfers, as well as more serious impersonation.
He orchestrated a wide-ranging plan that involved recruiting medical professionals and other retired NBA players to maximize the gains from his fraudulent activities.
The scheme targeted the NBA Players’ Health and Welfare Benefit Plan, which aims to provide essential services for eligible current and former players, as well as their family members.
Operating from 2017 to 2020, Williams and his co-conspirators submitted fake invoices for medical and dental services that never took place.
The co-defendants included a dentist, a doctor, and a chiropractor, who were all instrumental in carrying out the deceitful plot.
Williams also assumed the identity of a health plan employee and went as far as threatening players who refused to pay him a substantial “kickback” of at least $300,000.
NBA Player and Conspirators Caught in Fraudulent Operation
Despite their elaborate scheme, the conspirators were eventually caught due to discrepancies in the paperwork.
Prosecutors pointed out that former NBA center Gregory Smith had submitted medical claims for services allegedly received in Beverly Hills while he was, in fact, playing for Taiwan’s Super Basketball League at the time.
These inconsistencies raised red flags, leading investigators to dig deeper into the fraudulent operation.
The severity of Williams’s actions became evident when he was placed into custody after allegedly threatening a witness.
According to the US Attorney’s Office, Williams sent intimidating texts to the witness, displaying a complete disregard for the consequences of his actions.
His threats included explicit language and a blatant attempt to silence those who could expose the truth behind the scam.
Terrence Williams’s sentencing will include ten years of imprisonment and a substantial financial burden.
In addition to serving time behind bars, he has been ordered to pay over $3.1 million in restitution and forfeitures.
These measures serve as a warning to others who may contemplate similar criminal activities, emphasizing the gravity of white-collar crimes that affect organizations, employees, and beneficiaries alike.
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Source: CBS Sport