New York federal court documents unsealed today revealed 18 former NBA players were charged for allegedly defrauding the NBA’s Health and Welfare Benefit Plan. According to the NBC News New York story by Tom Winter and Jonathan Dienst, current Portland Trail Blazers assistant coach Milt Palacio and former Blazers players Darius Miles, Ruben Patterson and Sebastian Telfair were named in the indictment.
Other former players named include 2008 NBA Champion Glen “Big Baby” Davis and Memphis Grizzlies defensive star Tony Allen. Terrence Williams, the 11th overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft who played with four teams in his four-year NBA career, is the alleged orchestrator of the fraud scheme. Williams allegedly recruited others for the scheme and provided them with fake documentation for false healthcare claims, a service for which he allegedly received at least $230,000 in kickbacks.
According to the grand jury indictment, the defendants allegedly engaged in a widespread scheme from at least 2017 up to around 2020 to defraud the NBA Players’ Health and Welfare Benefit Plan by submitting fake reimbursement claims for medical and dental services that were never actually rendered.
The 18 former players indicted face charges of conspiracy to commit health care and wire fraud as well as identity theft. The indictment alleges they received about $2.5 million in fraudulent proceeds.
Palacio, who played in the NBA from 1999 to 2006, was the last assistant coach named to join Chauncey Billups’ staff in August. He had spent time as an assistant coach in the G-League and served as the University of Idaho Director of Player Development before joining the staff in Portland.
You can read the full story here.
UPDATE: The Portland Trail Blazers have placed Milt Palacio on administrative leave.
UPDATE: Trail Blazers Head Coach Chauncey Billups has responded to the charges against Palacio Sean Highkin of Bleacher Report tweeted the coach’s reaction:
It’s unfortunate. I’ve known Milt since college. It’s an unfortunate situation. There’s not really much for me to comment on. I found out about it when I got to the gym this morning, probably at the same time as you all did.