Former Portland Trail Blazers forward Kermit Washington, 66, was sentenced to six years in federal prison and fined $967,158 for his role in an extensive charity fraud scheme, according to a release from the Justice Department.
Washington was indicted in May after being accused of using proceeds from Project Contact, a charity that claimed to have “touched the lives of over one million Africans in need” by funding of medical facilities and other support infrastructure.
The Justice Department released the following in their statement:
“This former NBA player abused his fame and status to promote a charity scam by which he raised hundreds of thousands of dollars that he diverted to personal spending on lavish vacations, shopping sprees, and even plastic surgery for his girlfriend,” said Garrison. “Although he told his donors that 100 percent of all donations would go to support charitable work in Africa, including a medical clinic for needy families and HIV-positive children, in fact he spent most of the donated funds on himself. His fraud scheme also victimized law-abiding taxpayers by stealing from the public treasury rather than paying taxes owed.”
Washington played 11 years in the NBA, including a three-year stint with the Blazers from 1979-82. Washington was obtained as compensation from the San Diego Clippers when Bill Walton signed with them as a free agent.
Washington was perhaps previously best known for his 1977 on-court altercation with Rockets guard Rudy Tomjanovich, where he landed a punch that took Tomjanovich by surprise, fractured his face about one-third of an inch (8 mm) away from his skull and left Tomjanovich unconscious.