The Utah Jazz were without assistant coach Keyon Dooling on Thursday night for Game 6 of their Western Conference first-round playoff series against the Dallas Mavericks, a 98-96 loss that sent the Jazz home for the summer. Dooling, a former player and former vice president of the National Basketball Players Association was arrested on Wednesday and charged with fraud. He was placed on administrative leave by the Jazz.
“Keyon made us aware of the situation this morning. It is a case concerning his time at the National Basketball Players Association, prior to him joining our organization,” the Jazz said in a statement. “He has been put on paid administrative leave. Due to the ongoing legal process, we will refrain from further comment.”
Dooling was added to an ongoing criminal case in which 18 former NBA players were charged with illegally pocketing millions of dollars by defrauding the league’s health and welfare benefit plan.
The original indictment was filed last October where officials said former NBA players collected $2.5 million in funds from the benefit plan through illegal means.
Dooling is a former officer and vice president of the union. According to officials he “engaged in the scheme and recruited other co-conspirators to join the scheme.”
The other ex-players named in the indictment are: Tony Allen, Glen “Big Baby” Davis, Terrence Williams, Alan Anderson, Shannon Brown, Will Bynum, Melvin Ely, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Tony Wroten, Milt Palacio, Antoine Wright, Darius Miles, Ruben Patterson, Eddie Robinson, Charles Watson Jr., Gregory Smith, Jamario Moon and Sebastian Telfair.
All ex-players named in the indictment were charged with health care fraud and wire conspiracy for a scheme that authorities say spanned from at least 2017 to 2020. In October, a federal prosecutor said each defendant made false claims that ranged from $65,000 to $420,000.
The amended indictment alleges Dooling claimed $350,000 of the plan proceeds illegally. In total $5 million in false claims were submitted, but only $2.5 million was paid out.
Dooling played 13 seasons in the NBA for seven different franchises.
The reasons for the fraud scheme are unclear. But new executive director Tamika Tremaglio and President CJ McCollum will have to address safeguards around the benefit plans to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again. Accessing funds illegally obviously impacts players that actually need that money.
Perhaps working with the National Basketball Retired Players Association to ensure that there are sufficient and effective services for all players when they’ve accrued the necessary years of service.
Regardless of what is happening with the indictment, Dooling may not be on the sidelines anytime soon.
The Jazz franchise is going to rework things in the offseason. The Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert partnership has seemingly run its course, and they need more stout defenders on the wing.
It’s also probable that head coach Quin Snyder will be relieved of his duties. This team has been an excellent regular season performer over the past few seasons but extremely underwhelming in the playoffs, this season failing to advance deep in the playoffs despite leading the league in aNET rating. If Snyder is let go the staff, including Dooling, will probably be sent packing as well.