In October 2022, a New York federal judge sentenced former Chicago Bulls forward Eddie Robinson to time served for submitting fake claims to the NBA’s health plan. One of his co-defendants, a former guard for the Boston Celtics, Terrence Williams, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire and healthcare fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft and is scheduled to be sentenced in late January.
Robinson, who played for the Charlotte Hornets from 1999 to 2001 and the Chicago Bulls from 2001 to 2004, was one of 18 former NBA players who were charged for their roles in a scheme that involved over $5 million of fraudulent claims for nonexistent medical and dental benefits submitted to the NBA Players Health and Welfare Benefit Plan.
In October 2021, Robinson was charged with healthcare fraud for submitting at least $5 million in false claims between 2017 and 2021. In June of 2022, he pleaded guilty to healthcare fraud for submitting over $65,000 in phony claims for chiropractic services. Since then, nine other players have pleaded guilty to participating in the scheme, including Williams, the alleged ringleader.
Prosecutors claim that Williams master-minded the scheme and recruited others to be a part of it. In exchange for his efforts, he received over $300,000 in kickbacks.
In addition to the 18 former NBA players, the scheme also involved a dentist, a doctor, and a chiropractor. The players would submit claims to the Plan for medical and dental services that were never performed. The dentist, doctor, and chiropractor provided Williams with fraudulent invoices to support the claims, which he would then forward to the other defendants.
When the Plan tried to verify the veracity of the claims by requesting a letter of medical necessity from a provider, Williams fraudulently created the letters of medical necessity. Other times, he pretended to be an employee of the Plan’s administrator and used a fake email account to threaten other co-defendants, including the doctor, to create fraudulent invoices.
In August, Williams pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison, and one count of aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison for identity theft. As part of his plea agreement, he agreed to pay $2.5 million in restitution to the Plan and forfeit $650,000 to the federal government. Williams is scheduled to be sentenced on January 25, 2023.
Prosecuting healthcare fraud remains a high priority for the federal government. While the former NBA players’ case is unique, it aligns with the federal government’s prosecutorial priorities.
Allegations of healthcare fraud are often accompanied by other criminal charges, such as:
To mount an effective and successful defense against these charges, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side. For over 30 years, New York City healthcare fraud defense attorney Hope Lefeber has defended people accused of healthcare fraud and other crimes in federal court.
Ms. Lefeber began her career as an Enforcement Attorney with the Securities and Exchange Commission, where she learned first-hand how the federal government investigates and prosecutes white-collar crimes. Today, she uses that experience to defend people accused of financial crimes in federal court.
Ms. Lefeber is regularly called upon to represent high-profile defendants, including executives at Fortune 500 Companies, doctors, lawyers, medical professionals, professors, educators, students, and people from all walks of life who are under investigation or have been charged with financial crimes in federal court.
Ms. Lefeber has earned a reputation for success and has consistently been named a SuperLawyer and one of the Top 100 Lawyers by the National Trial Lawyers Association. In any case she takes on, she personally handles every detail of the case. Judges, opposing lawyers, and her clients find that she is meticulously prepared and a tenacious advocate who is not afraid to fight.
If you are facing federal criminal charges, Hope Lefeber can help. Contact Hope Lefeber today to schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your situation.