NBC News reported Thursday, Oct. 7, that 18 former NBA players were charged with attempting to defraud the National Basketball Association's health and benefit plan. According to prosecutors, the group attempted to steal $4 million from the league.
On the list of 18 former players is current Portland Trail Blazers assistant coach Milton Palacio. Other Blazers connections include Darius Miles (2004-2006), Ruben Patterson (2001-2006) and Sebastian Telfair (2004-2006).
Former New Jersey Nets' player Terrance Williams is being labeled as the "lynchpin" for the fraud claims, according to prosecutors. Williams allegedly would supply false invoices to the other players involved.
Williams is alleged to have received $230,000 in kickback payments while the group as whole reportedly submitted claims for $3.9 million and have received $2.5 million in payments, according to court documents.
Most of the players charged in the case served as journeymen in the 1990s and 2000s across the NBA. The most notable players include Ronald Glen "Big Baby" Davis and Tony Allen, who played with the Boston Celtics in 2008 during its championship run.
Palacio was hired on Aug. 2 of this year as a part of the staff coming in with new Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups. He played in the NBA from 1999-2006 with six different teams.
The team announced via a press release that Palacio is being placed on administrative leave with no timetable for a return to the bench.
"We are aware of charges as they become publicly available in alleged health insurance fraud case," the press release begins. "The federal investigation is independent of the Trail Blazers organization and we will have no further comment pending the outcome of the legal process."
Palacio is from Los Angeles and played college basketball at Colorado State. He also has dual citizenship in Belize and is the national team's head coach.
The full list of those charged in the case include:
• Alan Anderson
• Anthony Allen
• Shannon Brown
• William Bynum
• Ronald Glen Davis
• Christopher Douglas-Roberts
• Melvin Ely
• Jamario Moon
• Darius Miles
• Milton Palacio
• Ruben Patterson
• Eddie Robinson
• Gregory Smith
• Sebastian Telfair
• Charles Watson Jr.
• Antoine Wright
• Anthony Wroten
• Desiree Allen, Anthony Allen's wife, has also been indicted.
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