Disgraced onetime phenom Sebastian Telfair and more than a dozen other NBA veterans are charged with scamming the league's health plan out of millions of dollars, federal authorities announced Thursday.
Darius Miles and Glen Davis are also among the 18 defendants named in an indictment returned by a grand jury in Manhattan that alleges they filed nearly $4 million in fake medical and dental claims to the NBA’s Health and Welfare Benefit Plan for active and retired players.
Former New Jersey Nets shooting guard Terrence Williams ran the scam, supplying letters that justified medical services that were never provided, the indictment charges.
Williams pocketed at least $230,000 in kickbacks in return, it says.
The scheme laid out in the indictment resembles another in which a group of former NFL players are charged with illegally collecting $3.4 million.
The trip wire was cut by letters supplied by Williams that purportedly came from a chiropractor, according to the indictment.
They letters were "unusual in several respects: they are not on letterhead, contain unusual formatting, have grammatical errors, and one of the letters misspells a purported patient’s name,” it says.
Former Chicago Bulls power forward Gregory Smith also submitted claims for eight root canals and crowns done at a Beverly Hills dental office on Dec. 20, 2018, the grand jurors found. Smith was actually playing basketball in Taiwan at the time.
Davis, a former Boston Celtics power forward, submitted a $27,000 claim for work at the same dental office — only was in Paris at the time, the indictment alleges.
Another ex-Celtic, Anthony Allen, was also charged along with his wife, Desiree Allen, the only non-player named in the indictment.
Telfair, a five-star first-round draft pick out of high school in 2009, is cousins with former NBA star Stephon Marbury.
Once considered the next surefire star after LeBron James, the Brooklyn native was dubbed "The King of Coney Island" and drew celebrities such as Jay-Z and Derek Jeter to his high school games.
Telfair appeared on a SLAM magazine cover with the Lakers' veteran and on the front of Sports Illustrated by himself -- handling a basketball between his legs while seemingly hanging in the air. ESPN produced a documentary about him during his senior year.
Telfair had a disappointing career followed by legal troubles. He's been free awaiting the outcome of an appeal of a 3½-year conviction for having guns in his pickup truck when police stopped him in Brooklyn four years ago.
That arrest followed two previous gun-related incidents, one on the Portland Trail Blazers' private plane and again in Boston when he was playing for the Celtics.
Telfair’s older brother, Dan Turner, died of COVID-19. His mother, Erica Telfair, also died during the pandemic but her cause of death wasn't disclosed.
Telfair and the 17 other defendants are all charged in the federal indictment with conspiracy to commit health-care fraud and wire fraud. Williams is also charged with aggravated ID theft.
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