Former Rainier Beach High standout Terrence Williams has been accused of orchestrating a health insurance fraud scheme involving 17 other former NBA players, including former University of Washington standout Tony Wroten, Jr., who have been charged in federal court with illegally defrauding the league’s health and welfare benefit plan. 

According to an indictment in the Southern District of New York, between 2017 and 2020 players submitted fraudulent claims on fictitious medical and dental expenses that totaled $3.9 million from the NBA’s health and welfare benefit plan. The defendants received about $2.5 million in fraudulent proceeds. 

Those indicted Thursday face charges of conspiracy to commit health care and wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.  

“The defendants’ playbook involved fraud and deception,” U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss told a news conference after FBI agents across the country arrested 15 ex-players and one of their wives in a three-year conspiracy that authorities say started in 2017. 

By late morning Thursday, 16 of the defendants were in custody, according to the Associated Press

In a statement, the NBA called the allegations “particularly disheartening” because the benefit plans provided by the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association are critically important to support players’ health and well-being throughout their careers and post-retirement lives. 

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“We will cooperate fully with the U.S. Attorney Office in this matter,” the statement added. 

FBI Assistant Director Michael J. Driscoll, said the conspiracy was led by Williams, who was also charged with aggravated identity theft. 

Williams, the former University of Louisville star, was the No. 11 overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft before a four-year career that included stints with the New Jersey Nets, Houston Rockets and Boston Celtics. He tallied $6.9 million in NBA salaries, according to BasketballReference.com. 

Strauss called the 34-year-old Williams “the linchpin” of the scheme. 

The indictment said he submitted $19,000 in fraudulent claims for chiropractic care and received a $7,672 payout. He then recruited other former NBA players. 

Williams, a standout at Rainier Beach before graduating in 2005, is accused of orchestrating the multi-year scheme, emailing fake invoices and impersonating an individual who processed health care plan claims. He also allegedly received more than $230,000 in kickbacks from other players. 

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A lawyer who has represented Williams in the past declined to comment to the AP. 

The other NBA players charged include Glen “Big Baby” Davis, Tony Allen, Shannon Brown, Sebastian Telfair, Darius Miles, Milton Palacio, Antoine Wright, Alan Anderson, William Bynum, Melvin Ely, Christopher Douglas-Roberts, Eddie Robinson, Gregory Smith and Jamario Moon. 

According to the indictment, Wroten allegedly submitted false and fraudulent reimbursement claims and received $94,981.64 for dental services between April 17, 2018 and May 8, 2019 that were not performed. 

Court papers say, Wroten paid Williams $20,000 a day after receiving $94,981.64 reimbursement payment from the NBA on Oct. 20, 2018. The NBA’s medical plan made a second payment to Wroten on Nov. 2, 2018 and three weeks later he made two payments to Williams totaling $1,800. 

Phone and text messages to Wroten’s agent were not immediately returned. 

Wroten, who starred at Garfield High, played one year with the Washington Huskies during the 2011-12 season when he averaged 16.7 points, 5.0 rebounds and was named the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year. 

The 28-year-old Wroten was the No. 25 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft and played four years in the league while earning $5.9 million in salary, according to BasketballReference.com. 

Seattle Times news researcher Miyoko Wolf and The Associated Press contributed to this report.