MO: Former NBA Player Pleads Guilty in Work Comp/Tax Evasions Schemes

11 Jul, 2018 Liz Carey


Kansas City, MO ( – A former NBA player was sentenced Monday for his part in a multi-million dollar scam involving workers’ compensation fraud, tax fraud, software piracy, charitable donations fraud and identity theft.

Kermit Alan Washington, 66, of Las Vegas, NV, pleaded guilty to two counts of filing a false tax return and one count of aggravated identity theft in November 2017. U.S. District Judge Greg Kays sentenced Washington to six years in federal prison with no eligibility of parole. Washington was also ordered to pay $967,158 in restitution to the US government for unpaid taxes.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Western District of Missouri, Washington used his position as a former NBA player to scam millions from unsuspecting donors to his charity, The Sixth Man Foundation, while using the proceeds to finance his lavish lifestyle, diverting funds from the charity to pay for his rent, credit card bills, vacations, and even payments to a former prostitute.

Washington also admitted to federal authorities that he referred professional athletes to Ronald Jack Mix, 80, of San Diego, CA, who would work as the players’ attorney in workers’ compensation in the state of California. Mix would, in return, make donations to Washington’s Sixth Man charity. Mix admitted to paying Washington nearly $155,000 in donations. 

Money donated to the charity, which did business as Project Contact Africa, was marketed as going directly to needy families in Africa.

“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 Timothy Garrison, attorney for the Western District of Missouri U.S. Attorney General’s Office. “Although he told his donors that 100 percent 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. His fraud scheme also victimized law-abiding taxpayers by stealing from the public treasury rather than paying taxes owed.”

The charity operated an eBay store and used a PayPal account to take payments, according to a release from Garrison’s office. Nearly $12 million items, including illegal, illicit and counterfeit software, were sold on the charity’s eBay store.

Additionally, Washington pleaded guilty to failing to declare any of the income he diverted from the charity on his taxes, and to filing false tax returns for both himself and the charity. Washington also admitted to using the name, personal address and business address of a woman identified only as “TG” in court documents, so that Project Contact Africa could maintain its active status within the state of Oregon, which allowed the charity to operate in Oregon and maintain its charity store on eBay.

Don Ledford, spokesperson for the US Attorney General’s Office in Missouri, told that Washington was in federal custody following his sentencing.

“Washington… is in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service but they may not wish to identify his location for security reasons,” Ledford said. “At some point in the near future, the Bureau of Prisons will assign him to a permanent facility.” 

Ledford said the case’s association with software piracy led to the location of the prosecution.

“The case is in Missouri because it is part of an investigation into an international software piracy case that originated in Kansas City, MO. It’s not unusual, in a federal case, that more than one state or federal jurisdiction could potentially be responsible for investigating or prosecuting a case. In this instance, with co-conspirators and victims in Missouri, it made sense to keep all of the related cases together.”

Washington, who played for the LA Lakers and other teams in the 70s and 80s, is best known for throwing a punch during a game against the Houston Rockets that ended bench-clearing brawls that were becoming the norm in professional basketball in the 70s. After a mid-court scuffle between Kareem Abdul-Jabar and Houston’s Kevin Kunnert, Washington, a power forward, threw a roundhouse punch at Rudy Tomjanovich who was crossing the court to break-up the fight.

The punch left Tomjanovich unconscious and in a pool of blood on the court. His face had been shattered and separated from his skull, his jaw and nose had been broken, and he was suffering from a cerebral concussion. When he regained consciousness a few moments later, Tomjanovich said he could taste blood and spinal fluid leaking into his mouth.

Tomjanovich survived, but the punch ultimately ended his basketball career. Washington received $10,000 fine and a 60-day suspension causing him to miss 26 games. Washington left professional basketball as a player in 1987 after a brief career with the Golden State Warriors. He was later hired on to be assistant coach at Stanford University and strength and conditioning coach with the Portland Trail Blazers. 

Washington started his Sixth Man charity in 1995 after a mission to Goma, Zaire, where he worked in a refugee camp helping victims of the Rwandan Civil War.

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    • Liz Carey

      Liz Carey has worked as a writer, reporter and editor for nearly 25 years. First, as an investigative reporter for Gannett and later as the Vice President of a local Chamber of Commerce, Carey has covered everything from local government to the statehouse to the aerospace industry. Her work as a reporter, as well as her work in the community, have led her to become an advocate for the working poor, as well as the small business owner.

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