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Arrests in Alabama and elsewhere in NBA fraud scandal.

NBA Fraud Indictment Basketball
Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP
FR121174 AP
FILE - New Jersey Nets guard Terrence Williams, left, drives past Orlando Magic guard Vince Carter during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Orlando, Fla., in this Friday, Nov. 5, 2010, file photo. Eighteen former NBA players, including Williams, have been arrested on charges alleging they defrauded the league's health and welfare benefit plan out of about $4 million, according to an indictment Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File)

FBI agents across the country arrested fifteen ex-NBA players and one of their wives in a three-year conspiracy that authorities say started in 2017. The suspects were taken into custody in Alabama, Washington state, California, New York, Illinois, Florida, Nevada, Georgia and Tennessee.

All were charged with defrauding the league’s health and welfare benefit plan in a $2.5 million dollar scam. Authorities say the scheme involved bogus medical and dental expenses. The group includes three former Portland Trail Blazers players and one of the team’s current assistant coaches. Those players were identified as Sebastian Telfair, Ruben Patterson and Darius Miles. Blazers assistant coach Milt Palacio is also charged.

Prosecutors reportedly have travel records, email and GPS data that proves the ex-players were sometimes far from the medical and dental offices at the times when they were supposedly getting treated.

The NBA, in a statement called the allegations 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. We will cooperate fully with the U.S. Attorney Office in this matter,” the statement said

Pat Duggins is news director for Alabama Public Radio.
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