Former NBA player Washington sentenced for charity fraud
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Former NBA player Kermit Washington has been sentenced to six years in federal prison for spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in charity donations on vacations, shopping sprees and plastic surgery for his girlfriend.
The U.S. attorney’s office said in a news release that the 66-year-old Las Vegas man was also ordered Monday to pay nearly $970,000 in restitution after pleading guilty in November to making a false statement in a tax return and aggravated identity theft.
Washington played for several NBA teams in the 1970s and 1980s. He is best known for throwing a punch that fractured Houston Rockets player Rudy Tomjanovich’s face and left him unconscious during a 1977 game. Washington was playing for the Los Angeles Lakers at the time.
Prosecutors accused Washington of using his position as representative of the National Basketball Players Association to refer professional athletes to Ronald Jack Mix, a Pro Football Hall of Famer and San Diego lawyer who specialized in workers’ compensation cases. Mix filed workers’ compensation cases for the athletes then donated about $155,000 to Washington’s charity, The Sixth Man Foundation, which did business as Project Contact Africa. Donors were told the charity was supporting work in Africa, including a medical clinic for needy families and HIV-positive children.
In his plea, Washington admitted that he diverted that money to pay himself and for personal expenses. He also admitted that he didn’t report that income to the charity on Project Contact Africa’s IRS filings for several years.
Mix pleaded guilty in 2016 to making donations ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 for referrals of athletes and then claimed those payments as charitable contributions on his individual tax returns from 2010 to 2013.
Washington also admitted that he accepted $82,025 in contributions to his charity from Reza Davachi, of Damascus, Maryland, which he also diverted for his personal use. He also admitted that he used the identity of another person in numerous state and federal filings on behalf of the charity to perpetuate the fraud.
Washington’s case was prosecuted in Kansas City, Missouri, because some the athletes he referred to Mix lived in Missouri’s Western District.