Terrence Williams sentenced for masterminding $5 million NBA health care fraud

Former NBA player, Terrence Williams, was given a 10-year prison sentence on Thursday for his role in a fraud scheme that cheated the league’s health care plan out of $5 million.

FILE – New Jersey Nets guard Terrence Williams, left, drives past Orlando Magic guard Vince Carter during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Orlando, Fla., on Nov. 5, 2010. A federal judge sentenced a former first-round NBA draft pick to 10 years in prison Thursday, Aug. 3, 2023 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. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File)(AP)

Williams, 36, who played for the New Jersey Nets and other teams, pleaded guilty in August 2022 to being the mastermind behind the conspiracy. He recruited 18 other former players and some corrupt medical providers to submit fake invoices to the NBA’s Health and Welfare Benefit Plan, which offers extra coverage to retired and former players.

The judge who sentenced Williams, Valerie Caproni of the Manhattan federal court, also ordered him to pay more than $3.1 million in restitution and forfeitures.

According to prosecutors, the 36-year-old and his co-defendants filed phony claims for medical and dental services that they never received between 2017 and 2021.

The invoices they used were riddled with errors and inconsistencies, but they still managed to get reimbursed by the health care plan.

The Seattle native obtained the fake invoices from dishonest health care providers and offered them to other former players in exchange for kickbacks. He received $346,000 from this scheme, prosecutors said.

Williams also tried to intimidate his co-defendants and a witness by impersonating insurance company employees and sending threatening messages.

He told one co-defendant to pay him a “fine” or face being exposed for the fraud, prosecutors said. He also told a witness to “shut the f–k up” and accused them of “talking way to[o] f–king much” after he was arrested and released without bail in October 2021. The judge revoked his bail after learning of these threats.

The US attorney for Manhattan, Damiam Williams, said that Williams’ conduct was “brazen.”

“Williams led a wide-ranging scheme to steal millions of dollars from the NBA Players’ Health and Welfare Benefit Plan,” he said.

“Williams recruited medical professionals and others to expand his criminal conspiracy and maximize his ill-gotten gains,” he added.

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“Williams not only lined his pockets through fraud and deceit, but he also stole the identities of others and threatened a witness to further his criminal endeavors.”

One of the other players allegedly involved in the fraud was Sebastian Telfair, who grew up in Coney Island. The players who participated in the scheme had earned a total of $360 million during their NBA careers.

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