(KANSAS CITY, MO) – A former pro basketball player was sentenced to six years in federal prison Monday on charges related to an extensive charity fraud scheme. The sentence resulted from an investigation by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and the IRS’s Criminal Investigation division.
Kermit Alan Washington, 66, of Las Vegas, NV, was sentenced by US District Judge Greg Kays to six years in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Washington to pay $967,158 in restitution. Washington was taken into federal custody at the conclusion of the sentencing hearing.
“This former NBA player abused his fame and status to promote a charity scam by which he raised hundreds of thousands of dollars that he diverted to personal spending on lavish vacations, shopping sprees, and even plastic surgery for his girlfriend,” said US Attorney Timothy Garrison. “Although he told his donors that 100 per cent of all donations would go to support charitable work in Africa, including a medical clinic for needy families and HIV-positive children, in fact he spent most of the donated funds on himself.”
On November 30, 2017, Washington pleaded guilty to two counts of filing a false tax return and one count of aggravated identity theft.
Washington’s charity, The Sixth Man Foundation, doing business as Project Contact Africa, operated an eBay store and used a PayPal account to facilitate payments. About $12 million in items, including unauthorized, illicit, and counterfeit software and software components, were sold on the Project Contact Africa eBay store.
Customers of the charity’s eBay store were under the impression that “100 percent” of the proceeds of sales were intended to go to the charity. Washington admitted that he diverted funds from the charity’s bank account to pay himself or for personal spending, such as rent, credit card payments, vacation trips, and plastic surgery for his then-girlfriend.
Washington claimed to pay the rent and school fees for a family in Africa when, in fact, these payments were sent to a former prostitute.
Washington admitted that, while a regional representative for the National Basketball Players Association, he referred athletes to attorney Ronald Jack Mix, 80, of San Diego, CA, so that Mix could file worker compensation claims in the state of California on behalf of them. Mix then agreed to make donations to Washington’s charity.
According to court documents, Washington diverted charity proceeds and failed to declare this income on federal income tax returns from 2010 to 2014. During this time, Washington also improperly claimed tens of thousands of dollars in personal charitable deductions. Washington’s additional tax due for his underreported income is $90,181.
Washington was drafted fifth overall by Los Angeles in the 1973 NBA draft. and spent 14 years starting for the Lakers, Boston Celtics, San Diego Clippers, Portland Trail Blazers, and Golden State Warriors and averaging 9.2ppg and 8.3rpg.