**Former NBA Player Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison for Healthcare Fraud**
A former National Basketball Association (NBA) player, Terrence Williams, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for leading a scheme to defraud the league’s health care plan out of more than $5 million. Williams, the 11th overall pick in the 2009 draft, pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy and aggravated identity theft.
**Williams’ Role in the Fraud Scheme**
Williams was the mastermind behind the fraudulent scheme that involved making false claims for medical and dental expenses. He orchestrated the operation and received kickbacks of at least $300,000 from other individuals involved in the fraud. More than 20 people, including former NBA players Sebastian Telfair, Darius Miles, and Glen “Big Baby” Davis, were charged with defrauding the health care plan.
**Seriousness of Williams’ Offense**
US District Judge Valerie Caproni, presiding over the case, described Williams’ behavior as the most serious among all the defendants. The judge emphasized the gravity of Williams’ actions before imposing the 10-year prison sentence.
**Prosecutors’ Call for Harsh Punishment**
Prosecutors had requested a sentence of more than 10 years for Williams, citing the “breathtaking fraud” committed over a span of four years. During this time, Williams recruited former NBA players, forged signatures, posed as health plan employees, and collaborated with healthcare providers to fabricate letters of medical necessity.
**Williams’ Defense and Plea Deal**
In his defense, Williams filed court papers revealing the challenging circumstances of his childhood, which included poverty, drug addiction, abuse, and parental absence. He stated that his opioid addiction, developed after a basketball injury, led to many of his poor choices in the case. However, he admitted that greed also contributed to his involvement in the fraud.
Williams requested a sentence of a little over four years, but the judge ultimately handed down the 10-year prison term. Williams has already served a year and a half behind bars, which will be credited against his sentence.
**Restitution and Forfeiture**
As part of his plea deal, Williams agreed to pay $2.5 million in restitution to the NBA health plan, representing the amount of the loss. He also forfeited $654,000. However, the judge noted that Williams does not have the financial means to fulfill these obligations.
**Comparison to NFL Healthcare Fraud Case**
The NBA scheme perpetrated by Williams bears similarities to a case involving former National Football League (NFL) players. In 2019, ex-NFL players, including Clinton Portis, were charged with cheating an NFL health care program by falsifying the purchase of expensive medical equipment. The case highlights instances where professional athletes have manipulated healthcare systems for personal gain.
Terrence Williams, a former NBA player, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for orchestrating a fraud scheme that defrauded the league’s health care plan of over $5 million. Williams’ role in the operation was described as the most serious among the defendants. Despite his defense citing a troubled childhood and opioid addiction, the judge handed down the 10-year sentence. Williams has already served part of his sentence and agreed to pay restitution, although his financial ability to do so is limited. This case serves as a reminder of the unscrupulous actions some professional athletes have taken to exploit healthcare systems.