Ex-NBA player accused of misusing charity donations

Former NBA player Kermit Washington was indicted this week by a federal grand jury on charges he evaded taxes and defrauded donors to his charity, according to documents unsealed in federal court on Wednesday.

Washington faces more than 40 years in prison if convicted of the four charges: corrupt interference with the internal revenue laws, conspiring to commit wire fraud, obstruction and aggravated identity theft. He also could be fined up to $1 million.

“Individuals who use charitable organizations to defraud donors and evade tax obligations inflict substantial harm on every U.S. taxpayer and cause untold damage to well-intentioned charitable endeavors,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Caroline Ciraolo said in statement.  “The Department (of Justice) is committed to identifying those engaged in such criminal conduct and holding them accountable.

Washington’s NBA career spanned more than a decade, although he’s best known for punching Rudy Tomjanovich in an on-court altercation in 1977.

Washington, a former rep with the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA), led the charity Project Contact Africa (PCA), where he claimed 100% of the proceeds would be donated to Africa. Instead, Washington allegedly diverted the money from the charity to purchase gifts and cover his personal expenses, according to prosecutors.

Prosecutors claim a good portion of the funds PCA took in came from California attorney Ron Mix, a former NFL player whose practice focuses on filing workers’ compensation claims against pro leagues on behalf of former athletes. Washington funneled clients in his direction and Mix, in turn, made contributions to PCA.

“Upon receipt of these payments, Washington diverted the funds for his own personal benefit,” the Department of Justice said in a news release.

Along with diverting funds for his own gain, Washington allegedly filed false income tax documents from 2010-2013.

Source: MSN Sports

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