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5 Former Celtics Among 18 Ex-NBA Players Charged In Health Care Fraud Scheme

BOSTON (CBS/AP) -- Five former Boston Celtics are among the 18 former NBA players that 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.

Tony Allen, Glen "Big Baby" Davis, Milt Palacio, Sebastian Telfair, and Terrence Williams were the former Celtics indicted the case. Davis and Allen played on the 2008 team that won an NBA championship.

Allen was a six-time All-Defensive team selection. His wife was also indicted in the case.

After playing for Boston during the 2006-2007 season, Telfair was a part of the trade that brought Kevin Garnett to the Celtics from the Minnesota Timberwolves. Palacio played for the Celtics from 2000 to 2002, while Williams played 24 games with Boston during the 2012-2013 season.

Federal prosecutors spoke at a news conference to describe the case that was brought in Manhattan federal court. By late morning, 16 of the defendants were in custody, authorities said.

"The leader of this conspiracy was former NBA player Terrence Williams. And here's how it worked. First, Williams obtained fraudulent medical and dental invoices. Second, he sent those invoices to his co-conspirators, other former NBA players. Third, the co-conspirators submitted the fraudulent claims to the plan," said U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss. "Unaware that the claims were fraudulent, the plan paid most of the defendants claims. And fifth, in many cases, the defendants paid kick-backs to Williams."

According to the indictment, the ex-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.

In total, there were four NBA champions that were charged. Along with Davis and Allen, Shannon Brown and Melvin Ely were indicted. Brown won two championships with the Los Angeles Lakers, and Ely won a title with the San Antonio Spurs in 2007.

Anthony Wroten, Ruben Patterson and Darius Miles were the only players who averaged double figures for their NBA career that were charged.

Wroten averaged 11.1 points in 145 career games. Patterson averaged 10.7 points per game with six different teams. Miles, the No. 3 pick in the 2000 draft, averaged 10.1 points per game and played with four different franchises. Miles signed a non-guaranteed contract with Boston before the start of the 2008-2009 season, but was waived before the campaign started.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press's Larry Neumeister and Tim Reynolds contributed to this report. AP reporter Jennifer Peltz also contributed reporting from New York.)

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