Tony Allen, other former Memphis players among 18 charged in $4M NBA health care fraud scheme

NATION — Eighteen ex-NBA players have been charged in a scheme to defraud the league’s health and benefits plan out of nearly $4 million.

Among them are former Memphis Grizzlies players Tony Allen and former Memphis Tigers’ player Chris Douglas-Roberts.

According to the indictment, the former players engaged in a widespread scheme to defraud the plan by submitting false and fraudulent claims to get reimbursed for medical and dental expenses that never happened.

Allen’s wife is also named in the indictment.

Allen, of course, stands tall in the Bluff City. “The Grindfather” played for the Memphis Grizzlies from 2010-2016, making it to the Western Conference Finals in 2013 with playoff round wins over the Los Angeles Clippers and San Antonio Spurs and advancing to the semifinal round in 2011 and 2015.

Along with handing out W’s on the court, Allen has a long-standing tradition of providing Thanksgiving meals to people in Memphis.

Federal prosecutors held a news conference Thursday to talk about the case that was brought before Manhattan federal court.

RELATED: 18 ex-NBA players charged in $4M health care fraud scheme

“The defendants’ playbook involved fraud and deception,” U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss told a news conference after FBI agents across the country arrested 15 ex-players and one of their wives in a three-year conspiracy that authorities say started in 2017.

The scheme took place from at least 2017 to 2020, when the plan received false claims totaling around $3.9 million.

The defendants received about $2.5 million in fraudulent money.

Strauss said each defendant made false claims for reimbursements that ranged from $65,000 to $420,000.

All were charged with conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud, which carries the potential penalty of up to 20 years in prison.

In a statement, the NBA called the allegations “particularly 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 added.

Allen is currently scheduled to have his jersey retired by the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday, January 28, 2022.

FOX13 has reached out to the Memphis Grizzlies to see if Allen’s part in this indictment will affect his jersey retirement in any way.

Allen was not in custody as of Thursday afternoon.

Attorney Leslie Ballin is representing the Allens in Memphis. He spoke to FOX13 after dropping Tony Allen’s wife at home after she was released on a signature bond.

Chris Douglas Roberts, who goes by the name $upreme on Twitter, posted “My name will be cleared of this but I’m free and well. Truth will reveal itself.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.