NEW YORK — Current Portland Trail Blazers assistant coach Milt Palacio is on administrative leave after he and 18 former NBA players were charged with defrauding the league's health and welfare benefit plan out of about $4 million, NBC News reported Thursday morning. Among the players are former Blazers Sebastian Telfair, Darius Miles and Ruben Patterson.
Federal authorities confirmed the report to the Associated Press.
A news conference was scheduled for Thursday to announce the charges that were brought in an indictment in Manhattan federal court. The indictment said the ex-players and a 19th individual engaged in a widespread scheme to defraud the plan by submitting false and fraudulent claims for reimbursement of medical and dental expenses that were never incurred.
The Blazers hired Palacio as an assistant coach on Aug. 2. Telfair played for the Blazers from 2004-2006, Miles from 2003-2006 and Patterson from 2001-2006.
According to the NBC News report, other ex-NBA players charged include Terrence Williams, Alan Anderson, Anthony Allen, Desiree Allen, Shannon Brown, William Bynum, Ronald Glen "Big Baby" Davis, Christopher Douglas-Roberts, Melvin Ely, Jamario Moon, Eddie Robinson, Gregory Smith, Charles Watson Jr., Antoine Wright, and Anthony Wroten.
NBC News reports that those charged face a count of conspiracy to commit health care and wire fraud.
“That’s kind of crazy and it’s unfortunate for the Blazers that they have a coach involved. But that’s something that the Trail Blazers are going to have to deal with right now,” said sports reporter Dwight Jaynes, who has covered the team for more than 40 years.
The Trail Blazers released a statement saying, "We are aware of charges as they have become publicly available in the alleged health insurance fraud case. Milt Palacio, a Trail Blazers assistant coach and former NBA player, was among those indicted in the case. Palacio has been placed on administrative leave by the organization, pending further notice. The federal investigation is independent of the Trail Blazers organization and we will have no further comment pending the outcome of the legal process."