Cooperation Spares Former NBA Shooting Guard From Prison

Headlines that Matter for Companies and Executives in Regulated Industries

Cooperation Spares Former NBA Shooting Guard From Prison

Former National Basketball Association (NBA) shooting guard, Antoine Wright, was sentenced to time served after he pled guilty to conspiracy and aggravated identity theft for his involvement in a scheme to defraud the NBA Players Health and Welfare Benefit Plan, as previously detailed.

Wright, who previously played for the New Jersey Nets, Dallas Mavericks, Toronto Raptors, and Sacramento Kings, took responsibility for his actions soon after he was charged, and has since been working as an academic advisor and youth basketball coach. The government filed a 5K1 letter detailing Wright’s cooperation with the investigation, including Wright’s testimony at trial against Glen “Big Baby” Davis, a former Boston Celtics player, and Will Bynum, a former Detroit Pistons player. Davis and Bynum are the only two defendants charged in the scheme to proceed to trial and were found guilty last fall.

Wright joins other defendants, such as Ruben Patterson, Eddie Robinson, Tony Wroten, Jamario Moon, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Milt Palacio, and Shannon Brown, who have avoided prison time in part because they did not recruit other players into the scheme. 

Defendants who did recruit others to participate in the scheme have consistently received prison sentences, including Keyon Dooling and Alan Anderson, who were sentenced to 30 months and 24 months, respectively, for their roles. Terrence Williams, identified by the government as the leader of the scheme, received a sentence of 10 years. In addition, health professionals involved in the scheme also received jail time, including Patrick Khaziran and Aamir Wahab. Khaziran, a Los Angeles–based chiropractor, was sentenced to 30 months in prison for generating fraudulent invoices that cost the NBA $1.3 million, of which he personally received $439,000. Wahab, a Beverly Hills cosmetic dentist, was sentenced to three years in prison for falsely documenting that NBA players and their spouses received dental services that were not actually provided.

The case is United States v. Williams, et al., No. 1:21-cr-00603 (S.D.N.Y).

Health Care Staffing Company and Physician Agree to Pay $700k to Settle Telemedicine Scheme Allegations

Jackson & Coker Locum Tenens, LLC (JCLT), a health care staffing company, and Edward William Salko, DO, agreed to pay $700,000 to resolve allegations that they violated the False Claims Act by fraudulently billing Medicare for durable medical equipment and diagnostic laboratory testing that were not medically necessary.

According to US Department of Justice’s (DOJ) press release, JCLT retained Dr. Salko to provide telemedicine services for Nationwide Health Advocates (NHA), which hired telemarketing companies to contact Medicare beneficiaries. The telemarketers then generated physician orders for durable medical equipment (DME) or diagnostic laboratory testing, as well as supporting documentation to create the illusion that the beneficiaries were being treated for specific medical problems and that the DME or laboratory testing was part of their treatment. The physician orders and supporting documentation were allegedly sent to Dr. Salko for his signature and then subsequently billed to Medicare, even though Dr. Salko did not treat or even speak to the Medicare beneficiaries for whom he placed orders. Last fall, the former owner and president of NHA, David Santana, also pled guilty to health care fraud conspiracy charges for his involvement in the scheme.

Read the DOJ’s press release here.

COVID-19 Fraud Updates

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provided emergency assistance to small business owners adversely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The Small Business Administration (SBA) administered the emergency assistance through two primary sources of funding — the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) program. The DOJ continues to vigorously investigate and pursue COVID-19 fraud, and some recent updates are included below.

A former resident of Louisiana, Nipun Desai, was charged with CARES Act fraud for allegedly making false statements to obtain a $147,000 PPP loan for his hotel, even though Desai’s hotel allegedly had no employees or payroll at the time of the application. He faces up to five years in prison. A sentencing date has not been scheduled yet. Read the DOJ’s press release here.

Alexander Alli was found guilty by a Florida federal jury of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and two counts of wire fraud for his submission of a fraudulent EIDL application in which he falsely represented that his business suffered injury due to the pandemic and that he would use EIDL funds only for business-related purposes. As a result of these false representations, Alli received $82,500 in EIDL funds, even though his business ceased operating prior to the pandemic and was not operating at the time of his application. Alli spent the EIDL funds for non-business purposes. Read the DOJ’s press release here.

Sakiru Olanrewaju Ambali, a Nigerian citizen, was sentenced in a Washington federal court to 42 months in prison for wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. Ambali and his co-conspirator submitted over 1,700 claims for pandemic unemployment benefits to over 25 different states using thousands of stolen identities, and obtained approximately $2.4 million, primarily from pandemic unemployment benefits. Ambali is also required to pay more than $1 million in restitution as part of his sentence. Read the DOJ’s press release here.

Finally, an Atlanta man, Kemar Clarke Jr., was sentenced to eight months in prison for submitting a PPP loan application on behalf of a US Army paralegal specialist for a non-existent barber shop in exchange for an $8,000 kickback. Read the DOJ’s press release here.


Continue Reading