Former New York HS Basketball Star Involved in Multi-Million Dollar Fraud
There are few stories in sports more sad than the high school star that sees their career flame out before it can even begin.
Sebastian Telfair was about as big of a star as you can find in high school. Playing for Abraham Lincoln High School, Telfair scored a total of 2,785 points, averaging over 30 points per game in his senior season. His numbers were so good, in fact, that in the press conference captured above, Telfair declared that he was skipping college to declare for the 2004 NBA Draft, which would see Dwight Howard go first overall.
How good was Telfair in high school? Well, MaxPreps.com's Kevin Askeland ranked Telfair as the second greatest New York high school point guard ever, ahead of guys like Bob Cousy, Kenny the Jet Smith and Mark Jackson.
Things never fully translated to success in the NBA, as Telfair never became a consistent starter as a young player, quickly faded into a bench role, and was out of the NBA completely by age 29. He's also had his trouble with the law, collecting a robbery arrest in 2006, and handguns-related infractions in 2007 and 2017.
He's back in the news now, for a more bizarre, more sad reason.
Telfair was one of eighteen former NBA players who were indicted earlier Thursday for defrauding the NBA's health and welfare benefit plan. According to the report published by ESPN, the players were submitting false claims for dentist and doctor appointments, and pocketing the money instead.
Here's more from the ESPN article on how much money was at stake:
"The indictment said the scheme was carried out from at least 2017 to 2020, when the plan -- funded primarily by NBA teams -- received false claims totaling about $3.9 million. Of that, the defendants received about $2.5 million in fraudulent proceeds.
Strauss said each defendant made false claims for reimbursements that ranged from $65,000 to $420,000."
These accusations are no joke, and the number of times the ESPN article uses the term "at least" makes you think that there may be more dirt left to be uncovered. In the mean time, we do know that the fraud was led by former New Jersey Net Terrence Williams, and that former Boston Celtic Tony Allen was also involved.
I encourage you to read the full piece that ESPN did on this incident, in order to gain a true understanding for the mess that these players have created for themselves. It's heartbreaking to think that 18 players needed to stoop to this level in order to make money in their post-playing career.
It's even worse to think that there may be other former players, in the NBA and beyond, that have and will sink to that level as well in order to make ends meet.