Former NBA player Kermit Washington has been indicted on a number of charges, in connection with accusations that he embezzled around $500,000 in charity donations.
According to ESPN, prosecutors are accusing the 64-year-old of embezzling charitable donations from a organization he founded between 2004 through 2013, which meant to benefit needy in Africa, but instead, were spent it on jewelry, vacations and other personal items.
Washington was charged on Monday (May 23) in Kansas City on charges of interfering with internal revenue laws, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, obstruction of justice and aggravated identity theft. He was later released on $75,000 bond.
“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 said that just a “very small fraction” of donations went to charity.
Federal authorities were investigating pirated software, in a case against several other people, when they uncovered Washington’s fraud.
Defendants in the software case are accused of paying Washington to allow them to sell items through his Project Contact Africa’s website to save on fees owed to PayPal and eBay if the items were not sold through a charity, Dickinson said.
Washington played in the NBA in the 1970s and 1980s for several teams, including the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, San Diego Clippers and Portland Trail Blazers. He’s best known for an infamous punch that fractured Tomjanovich’s face and left him unconscious during a 1977 game between Washington’s Lakers and the Rockets.