Sebastian Telfair won three city titles and one state crown at Lincoln High School. Now he faces federal fraud charges. AP Photo by Kevin Rivoli
Seventeen years ago, Coney Island native Sebastian Telfair was on the cover of Sports Illustrated, billed as the smallest player to jump straight from high school to the NBA.
Now the former Lincoln High star is just trying to stay out of jail, along with the 17 other former NBA players allegedly defrauding the league’s retiree health care plan of nearly $ 4 million, according to the federal indictment from last week.
He left Manhattan Federal Court on Thursday with an ankle monitor, less than two decades after landing a six-year, $ 15 million sneaker deal with adidas.
“The accused’s playbook included fraud and deception,” Audrey Strauss, the United States prosecutor for the Southern District of New York, said last Thursday.
“The players will have to answer for their gross violations of the law,” she added.
Retired from the NBA since 2015, Telfair was a legend in Lincoln, where he won three PSAL Championships, a State Crown in Glens Falls, NY, and the coveted honor of being named Mr. Basketball for the State of New York.
Although his NBA career has been more of a companion run across the circuit, rather than that of a player hailed as a superstar from the time he graced that SI cover as the first player at 6 feet even to do. the high school jump to benefits.
He played for eight teams in his 10 NBA seasons and spent a few years playing professionally in China, as did his famous cousin and former New York Knicks and New Jersey Nets star Stephon Marbury.
Telfair is accused of producing and submitting fraudulent invoices to the league’s health insurance plan in order to be reimbursed for visits to the doctor and dentist that never took place.
Terrence Williams, a former 2009 Nets first-round pick, is listed as the alleged leader of the fraud scheme, which authorities say took place between 2017 and 2020.
Also listed in the indictment: Glen Davis, Darius Miles, Anthony Alan, Alan Anderson, William Bynum, Melvin Ely, Jamario Moon, Milton Palacio, Ruben Patterson, Gregory Smith, Antoine Wright, Anthony Wroten, Christopher Douglas- Roberts, Shannon Brown and Eddie Robinson.
This isn’t the type of list Telfair was expected to be on when he passed up the chance to go to the University of Louisville with a full scholarship and was instead selected 13th overall. by the Portland Trail Blazers in the 2004 NBA Draft.
Telfair only spent two years at Portland, but established himself as a reliable player who could step off the bench and energize his teammates.
His current legal issues come after a pair of gun charges, one in 2007 in the Bronx and another here in Brooklyn in 2017.
The subject of a book titled “The Jump” by Ian O’Connor, which chronicles his years at Lincoln before the start of his professional career, and a documentary of the same name by famous director Jonathan Hock, Telfair was once a fast pupil. which seems to sink just as quickly.
I witnessed his greatness at St. John’s University in the PSAL semifinals and at Madison Square Garden, where he and his Railsplitter teammates cut the net after winning several city crowns.
But it was after he finished playing professionally that Telfair would have become part of this plot to receive bogus refunds from the league.
And the NBA is clearly not happy.
“The benefit plans provided by the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association to our players are critically important to supporting their health and well-being throughout their playing careers and throughout their lives. which makes these allegations particularly disheartening, ”the league said. said in a statement last week.
“We will cooperate fully with the US attorney’s office in this matter.”
This cooperation, coupled with mountains of evidence against the indicted players, could be enough to send Telfair to federal prison for some time.
Or at least have him testify against Williams, him and some of his former NBA brethren.
It would be a precipitous downfall for a player who made an unprecedented and well-narrated leap all those years ago here in Brooklyn.