The United States Attorney’s Office announced Thursday that former NBA player Terrence Williams has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for defrauding the league’s health and welfare benefit plan out of more than $5 million.
Williams has been incarcerated in Brooklyn since the spring of 2022 after he threatened witnesses in his case.
Williams, who played for the New Jersey Nets, Houston Rockets, Sacramento Kings and Boston Celtics in his career, pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to commit health care and wire fraud, as well as aggravated identity theft.
“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 health and welfare benefit plan provides benefits to eligible active and former players in the NBA as well as family members. However, Williams abused this plan from “at least 2017 through at least 2021,” as he created a scheme that involved “more than a dozen others” by submitting fraudulent claims for reimbursement of medical and dental services that were not rendered.
Williams was the orchestrator of this defrauding plan, providing false invoices to the others participating in his scheme. Some of his co-defendants include a dentist and doctors in California and Washington state, the statement said.
Williams was one of 18 former NBA players who were indicted in 2021. He also impersonated a health plan employee and would threaten players who did not give him a kickback payment of at least $300,000.
Keyon Dooling and Alan Anderson were also among the former NBA players involved in the scheme.
Paperwork discrepancies eventually got Williams caught, as former NBA center Gregory Smith reportedly submitted a claim to the health and welfare benefit plan for dental work he had done in Beverly Hills in 2018, per CBS News. However, Smith was never in California at the time, as he was playing in the Super Basketball League in Taiwan.
On top of his prison sentence, the 36-year-old Williams was sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to forfeit $653,672.55 as well as restitution of $2.5 million.
Williams was the 11th overall pick by the Nets coming out of Louisville in the 2009 NBA Draft. He lasted just a season-and-a-half with the Nets before he was dealt to the Rockets during the 2010-11 season.
Williams was moved to the Kings during the next season, and after a 2012-13 campaign with the Celtics, he never broke back into the league.
Over 153 career games, Williams averaged 7.1 points, 2.4 assists, 3.6 rebounds and shot 41.2% from the field.