Ex-NBA Player Accused of Charity and Tax Fraud

     (CN) — Prosecutors claim former basketball player Kermit Washington used his Africa charity to avoid fees on eBay and PayPal and used donations to pay for personal expenses.
     The 16-page indictment was returned Monday by a Kansas City, Mo., grand jury and was unsealed Wednesday morning.
     Washington, 64, was indicted on charges of corruptly interfering with internal revenue laws, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, obstruction of justice and aggravated identity theft.
     Prosecutors allege Washington used his charity, Project Contact Africa (PCA), to defraud donors as well as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), PayPal and eBay.
     He falsely claimed that 100 percent of donations would go to causes in Africa, but he actually used some of the money to buy gifts and pay for rent, groceries, credit card charges, jewelry, clothes, airline flights, hotels and home furnishing, according to the indictment.
     Washington also allegedly referred pro athletes to attorney Ron Mix, who files workers’ compensation cases for former athletes. In exchange for the referrals, Mix donated money to PCA, which Washington used for personal expenses, prosecutors claim.
     The charity was used to hide income on Washington’s individual tax returns from 2010 to 2013, the indictment alleges.
     In addition, a co-conspirator, Reza Davachi, allegedly created eBay and PayPal charity merchant accounts for PCA, which were misused to avoid certain costs.
     “Washington would and did allow, permit and encourage Davachi and others to use PCA’s name, tax-exempt status, and IRS employee identification number (EIN), with eBay and PayPal, so that Davachi and others could avoid substantial listing and registration fees incurred in operating online, for-profit businesses,” the indictment states.
     Washington was arrested Tuesday in Los Angeles and was released on bond. He was ordered to wear a GPS monitoring device.
     His next court date is June 16. If convicted on all four charges, he faces a maximum of 45 years in prison and $1 million in fines.
     Washington played in the National Basketball Association (NBA) from 1973 to 1987. He played for the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, San Diego Clippers, Portland Trail Blazers and Golden State Warriors.
     He is remembered for punching another player, Rudy Tomjanovich, in 1977 during a game against the Houston Rockets. The resulting injuries from the punch reportedly ended Tomjanovich’s career.

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