Two months ago, a federal judge denied former Boston Celtics forward Glen “Big Baby” Davis a chance to introduce testimony about his alleged intellectual deficits. On Wednesday, a Manhattan jury convicted Davis and former Detroit Pistons guard Will Bynum of orchestrating a criminal scheme to defraud the NBA players’ health and benefit welfare plan.
Davis played eight NBA seasons between 2007 and 2015, earning $34.4 million in salaries; Bynum played eight NBA seasons between 2005 and 2015 (he also played professionally in China and Israel), earning $17.1 million in salaries. Both could face two decades in prison after being convicted of fraud. While they’re unlikely to receive such a lengthy sentence as non-violent offenders without rap sheets, they probably will face some time behind bars, particularly since they didn’t negotiate plea deals for reduced sentences.
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The players’ misdeeds were hardly the work of criminal masterminds. They simply submitted false invoices to health care providers for reimbursement, meaning they claimed to receive medical treatments when no such treatments occurred.
To illustrate, Davis filed a $27,200 claim for crowns supposedly performed by a Beverly Hills, Calif., dentist in 2018. Davis, 37, was apparently unaware the geolocation data for his cell phone—which law enforcement can usually access—showed he wasn’t in California on the day of the fake procedure.
Davis hoped jurors would hear testimony by professor Elise Caccappolo van Vliet, the director of neuropsychology service at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center. Caccappolo wrote in a report that Davis suffered an “intellectual disability” that was “previously referred to as mental retardation.” This disability might have persuaded jurors Davis lacked the necessary intent to defraud a health care plan. But Judge Valerie Caproni denied the testimony in part because it was not based on a review of medical records predating Davis’s criminal acts.
Davis’s attorneys also argued that their client’s nickname reflected his “cognitive and emotional limitations.” Davis, however, has given alternative origin stories for “Big Baby,” including that he was, quite literally, a big baby—born weighing 14 pounds.
Davis and Bynum, 40, were among 20 defendants charged in the criminal conspiracy. The supposed “ringleader” was former Nets swingman Terrence Williams, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison as part of a plea deal.
“Today’s conviction,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement on Wednesday, “exemplifies that despite notoriety or success in sports or any other field, no one is exempt from criminal charges if they engage in fraud.”