Hundreds of current and former professional basketball players in California receive medical, dental, vision and prescription drug coverage from the NBA Players’ Health and Welfare Benefit Plan. In October 2021, the plan attracted nationwide media attention when federal prosecutors announced that 18 former NBA players, a dentist, a doctor and a chiropractor had been charged with submitting $5 million in false claims. Most of the defendants chose to cooperate with U.S. attorneys and plead guilty in return for lenient sentencing recommendations, but Glen Davis and Will Bynum decided to take their chances with a jury.
Jury returns guilty verdict
That decision led to a trial in a New York City federal court that began on Nov. 1. The trial ended on Nov. 15 when the jury found Bynum guilty of conspiring to make false statements and Davis guilty of health care fraud, wire fraud, conspiring to commit fraud and conspiring to make false statements. Davis played for nine seasons in the NBA with the Boston Celtics, Orlando Magic and Los Angeles Clippers. Bynum spent all but one of his seven NBA seasons with the Detroit Pistons.
During the trial, the prosecutors presented evidence that showed Bynum and Davis submitted and benefitted financially from false health care claims. The jury also heard that former player Terrance Williams was the ringleader of the white-collar crime scheme and received kickbacks form players who submitted fraudulent claims. Williams pleaded guilty in 2021 and was sentenced to 10 years in a federal prison.
Sentences likely to be harsh
The sentences handed down in federal white-collar crime cases are often lenient when defendants plead guilty, but they can be harsh when juries are called upon to determine guilt or innocence. This is why Davis and Bynum may still have years of their sentences left to serve when their codefendants are released.