Ex-NBA player accused of charity fraud scheme

Posted at 10:25 AM, May 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-25 18:40:55-04

Former NBA player Kermit Washington is accused of using donations intended to help needy people in Africa for his own gain, including paying for vacations, jewelry and entertainment.

U.S. Attorney Tammy Dickinson on Wednesday announced a federal indictment against Washington, who is best known for punching Houston Rockets player Rudy Tomjanovich during a game in 1977.

Dickinson said the accusations against Washington stem from a much larger scheme that began in Kansas City, Missouri. In December, investigators seized more than $20 million from conspirators who sold unauthorized and pirated computer software. The scheme ran on a nationwide scale.

On Tuesday, Dickinson said Washington used that tactic to make money. She said he’s accused of selling the software on sites like eBay, while advertising that the money would go toward Project Contact Africa, which is the charity Washington founded.

“Washington diverted nearly $500,000 in charity funds for his own personal use,” Dickinson said.

Dickinson also said that once investigators started following the money from previous schemes, it led them to Washington.

The 64-year-old Washington is charged with interfering with internal revenue laws, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, obstruction of justice and aggravated identity theft. He was arrested Tuesday in Los Angeles.