After attempting to defraud the NBA's Health and Welfare Benefit Plan of nearly $4 million, officials said Thursday that 18 former NBA players were charged.

According to NBC News, each of the 18 former NBA players was charged with conspiracy to commit health care and wire fraud. Officials confirmed that by midday Thursday, 16 of the 18 former players had been taken into custody.

Former NBA Players Arrested, Faced Fraud Charges

Among the defendants were Terrence Williams, Anthony Allen, William Bynum, Ronald Glen "Big Baby" Davis, Jamario Moon, Alan Anderson, Sebastian Telfair, Darius Miles, Shannon Brown, Christopher Douglas-Roberts, Melvin Ely, Milton Palacio, Ruben Patterson, Eddie Robinson, Gregory Smith, Charles Watson Jr., Anthony Wroten, and Antoine Wright.

Aside from the former NBA players, the wife of Anthony "Tony" Allen, Desiree Allen, was also named among the defendants.

According to U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York Audrey Strauss, the former players' playbook involved fraud and deception. Strauss noted that the defendants would need to answer for their "flagrant violations of law," CBS News reported.

The former players reportedly submitted false and fraudulent claims for reimbursement for dental and medical services that were never rendered. Reports said the scheme happened between 2017 and 2020.

Strauss noted that 34-year-old Terrence Williams, a Seattle native who spent four seasons in the NBA league, was the "scheme's linchpin."

Prosecutors said he allegedly orchestrated the scheme and supplied false invoices to other former players to support the fraudulent claims in exchange for kickback payments that totaled at least $230,000

Prosecutors noted that when one player did not pay Williams, he called the co-defendant, who pretended to be a plan administrator, and said there was a problem with the claim.

Williams also allegedly helped three defendants procure fake "letters of medical necessity," the indictment said. Strauss said they were hoping that the discovery would frighten other players into re-engaging with Williams. 

She noted that the former New Jersey Nets player was also slammed with an aggravated identity theft charge in connection with the call.

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Former NBA Players' Health Care Fraud Scheme

Overall, the scheme received false claims totaling about $3.9 million. Of that, about $2.5 million went to the defendants.

Authorities said the NBA's health care fraud scheme was uncovered because of the sloppy work of the defendants.

They said the defendants did not even check if one of them submitted a noticeable fake claim that they only copied from another player.

Citing as an example, Strauss said three defendants filed for root canals, all supposedly performed on the same six teeth on April 30, 2016. She added that they also put in for payments for crowns done on the same six teeth on May 11, 2016.

Another defendant filed a bogus claim for a root canal and crowns in Beverly Hills in December 2018, even when he was playing in Taiwan at that time.

According to the indictment, authorities noticed the fake claims since several of the fake invoices and medical necessity forms stood out since they were not on letterhead and contained unusual formatting. 

They also said the fake documents also have grammatical errors. Each former NBA player could get at least 20 years in prison if convicted, and Terrence Williams could face an additional 15 years for the identity theft charge. 

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Written by: Jess Smith

WATCH: Glen Davis, Terrence Williams Among 18 former NBA Players Charged in Scheme - From ESPN