Former NBA player Terrence Williams has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for defrauding the NBA health and welfare benefit plan out of more than $5 million, the United State's Attorney's Office announced Thursday. He has been jailed in Brooklyn since the spring of 2022 due to threatening witnesses.
Williams pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care and wire fraud in addition to aggravated identity theft last year. Along with prison time, he will also have to pay more than $3.1 million in restitution and forfeitures.
"Williams led a wide-ranging scheme to steal millions of dollars from the NBA Players' Health and Welfare Benefit Plan," U.S. attorney Damian Williams said in a statement. "Williams recruited medical professionals and others to expand his criminal conspiracy and maximize his ill-gotten gains.
"Williams not only lined his pockets through fraud and deceit, but he also stole the identities of others and threatened a witness to further his criminal endeavors. For his brazen criminal acts, Williams now faces years in prison."
The NBA health and welfare benefit plan is intended to serve eligible active and former players of the league, as well as their family members.
Williams was accused of recruiting other retired players into making fraudulent medical claims from around 2017 to 2020. Their scheme involved using fake invoices for medical and dental work that never actually happened. Williams was one of 18 former NBA players indicted in 2021. The codefendants also include a dentist, a doctor and a chiropractor.
Williams also impersonated a health plan employee and threatened players who did not pay him a "kickback" of at least $300,000.
They were eventually caught because of discrepancies in paperwork. According to CBS News, prosecutors said former NBA center Gregory Smith submitted claims for a root canal and crowns on Dec. 20, 2018 in Beverly Hills. However, Smith wasn't in California at the time because he was playing for Taiwan's Super Basketball League.
Williams had been on pretrial release but was put into custody in 2022 because he had allegedly threatened a witness.
According to the U.S Attorney's Office, Williams texted the witness that they were "talking way to[o] f-----g much," that they needed to "shut the f--k up" and "me spitting in your face is exactly what you'll see."