04 August, 2023
A federal judge sentenced a former first-round NBA draft pick to 10 years in prison Thursday, saying he used his people skills to entice others to aid his $5 million health care fraud after he “frittered away” substantial earnings from his professional career.
Terrence Williams, 36, of Seattle, was also ordered to forfeit more than $650,000 and to pay $2.5 million in restitution for ripping off the NBA’s Health and Welfare Benefit Plan between 2017 and 2021 with the help of a dentist in California and doctors in California and Washington state. Profits were generated by claims for fictitious medical and dental expenses.
Prosecutors said fraudulent invoices created by the medical professionals were processed by other people whom Williams recruited to defraud the plan, which provides health benefits to eligible active and former NBA players and their families.
“You were yet another player who frittered away substantial earnings from the period of time when you were playing basketball professionally,” Judge Valerie E. Caproni told him. “You should have had enough money to be set for life, but you don’t.”The New Jersey Nets selected Williams 11th overall in the 2009 draft. He played for the Brooklyn Nets, Boston Celtics, Houston Rockets, and Sacramento Kings before retiring in 2013.
In a case that culminated in criminal charges against 18 former NBA players, Williams pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care and wire fraud, as well as aggravated identity theft. So far, 13 people have pled guilty to charges. Many of those condemned have received “time served” or probation, which means they did not have to go to prison. Authorities claim that at least ten of the ex-players paid Williams a total of $230,000 in kickbacks.
The majority of the ex-players charged had journeyman careers playing for a variety of teams and never achieved the great stardom or compensation that elite players command.
Despite this, the 18 players earned a total of $343 million during their NBA careers, without including outside income, sponsorships, or any money earned while playing overseas.