NEW YORK (AP) — Eighteen former NBA players 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.
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.
Among those charged was Tony Allen, an NBA Championship winner with Boston who played with the Memphis Grizzlies from 2010-2017. Allen was part of the Grizzlies’ “Core Four” era that led to seven straight playoff runs, and coined the “grit and grind” phrase that became the team’s identity.
Known in Memphis as “The Grindfather,” Allen is set to have his jersey retired on January 28 when fellow Core Four member Mike Conley is in town with the Utah Jazz. His wife was also indicted.
Other Memphis-connected players include former University of Memphis Tigers great Christopher Douglas-Roberts, who helped lead the U of M to the NCAA Title game back in 2008, and Tony Wroten and Darius Miles, who both formerly played with the Memphis Grizzlies.
Federal prosecutors planned 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.
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.
For the most part, the ex-players charged had journeyman careers playing for several different teams and never reached anywhere close to the enormous stardom or salary that top players command.
Those charged also included four NBA champions. Ronald Glen Davis, along with Allen, was part of that 2008 title team in Boston. Shannon Brown won two championships with the Los Angeles Lakers, and Melvin Ely won a title with San Antonio in 2007.
Among others who were charged, Anthony Wroten, Ruben Patterson and Darius Miles were the only players who averaged double figures for their NBA career.
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.