Thursday, a federal judge sentenced an ex-first-round NBA draft pick to 10 years in prison, stating that he used his interpersonal skills to persuade others to assist him in committing a $5 million health care fraud after squandering a substantial portion of his career earnings.
Terrence Williams, 36, of Seattle, was ordered to surrender over $650,000 and pay $2.5 million in restitution for stealing the NBA’s Health and Welfare Benefit Plan between 2017 and 2021 with the support of a California dentist and California and Washington state physicians. Profits were generated from claims for fraudulent medical and dental expenditures. According to prosecutors, the medical professionals’ fraudulent invoices were processed by individuals Williams recruited to defraud the plan, which provides health benefits to eligible active and former NBA players and their families.
In a case resulting in criminal charges against 18 former NBA players, Williams pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care and wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. Thirteen have pleaded guilty to offenses thus far. Many of those who have been sentenced have received time served or probation, indicating they were not incarcerated. At least ten ex-players paid Williams approximately $230,000 in gratuities, according to authorities.
Unraveling the Scheme, Regret, and Sentencing of Williams’ Financial Crime
Before the sentence was pronounced, Williams repeatedly choked up as he attributed his crime to stupidity and greed and expressed regret over being separated from his six children, two of whom are now adults. “I absolutely accept full responsibility for my role in this case,” he said.
The judge, however, concluded that it appeared he used his charisma to entice friends and others to join him in a scheme to steal money, as he was unwilling to pursue legitimate employment. She described his conduct as extortionate and aggressive. And his motivation, she continued, “was greed.” She stated that she would require him to enroll in a program that teaches money management.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams stated that the defendant recruited medical professionals and others in order to carry out a criminal conspiracy and maximize unlawful profits. In order to carry out his illicit activities, Williams not merely enriched himself through fraud and fabrication, but he also stole the personal information of others and threatened a witness. Williams now faces years in prison for his egregious illicit behavior. Since May 2022, when prosecutors claimed he sent menacing text messages to a witness in the case, Williams has been incarcerated.