Kermit Washington indicted for embezzling charitable donations

Ball Don't Lie
The 15-year NBA veteran has been accused of embezzling roughly $500,000 meant for children in Africa (Kent Smith/ NBAE via Getty Images).
The 15-year NBA veteran has been accused of embezzling roughly $500,000 meant for children in Africa (Kent Smith/ NBAE via Getty Images).

Retired NBA veteran Kermit Washington now faces the possibility of decades in prison. As revealed in an indictment unsealed Wednesday, Washington has been charged with embezzling roughly $500,000 in charitable donations meant to benefit children in Africa. Washington was arrested Monday in Los Angeles, but the federal charges were filed Wednesday in Kansas City, Missouri.

Maria Sudekum of the Associated Press has more:

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Prosecutors have filed charges against former NBA forward Kermit Washington, accusing him of embezzling about a half-million dollars in charitable donations meant to help the needy in Africa and spending it on jewelry, vacations and other things. [...]

Washington, who was released on $75,000 bond, is charged with interfering with internal revenue laws, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, obstruction of justice and aggravated identity theft. The charges largely stem from transactions that occurred from about 2004 through 2013, according to the indictment.

''The federal indictment alleges this former NBA player used his celebrity status to exploit the good intentions of those who donated to a charity he founded, called Project Contact Africa,'' said Tammy Dickinson, U.S. attorney for the western district of Missouri.

She declined to say how much of the money actually went to the charity, but she characterized it as a ''very small fraction.''

BuzzFeed's Tasneem Nashrulla provides the details on the charges:

He was charged with corruptly interfering with internal revenue laws, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, obstruction of justice, and aggravated identity theft. Two of those charges carry a maximum prison sentence of 20 years.

Prosecutors' investigation of Washington began with a related look into pirated software. It has also involved NFL great and Hall of Famer Ron Mix, now a lawyer who plead guilty Monday to paying Washington $155,000 for clients referrals issued as charitable donations to Project Contact Africa.

Washington is best known for shattering the face of Houston Rockets forward Rudy Tomjanovich with a punch in a 1977 game. He played for five NBA teams from 1973 through 1988 and was named an All-Star while a member of the Portland Trail Blazers in 1980. Washington also worked as a regional representative for the NBPA during many of the years noted in the indictment.

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Eric Freeman is a writer for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at efreeman_ysports@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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