DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — Troubled 1970s-era professional basketballer James "Fly" Williams and 17 other people were busted Thursday for being part of a $20 million heroin ring, the Brooklyn District Attorney said Thursday.
Williams, 65, who played for the Denver Nuggets in the defunct American Basketball Association, led the crew, including his son, selling millions of heroin packets over the last year in Brownsville, Bushwick, Flatbush and Fort Greene, according to officials.
“What makes his alleged conduct even more unfortunate is that Fly Williams had his own well-documented battles with addiction," acting Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez said during a press conference.
Williams had mentored young people at the Brownsville Recreation Center while operating the drug ring.
“With his influence on young people to run such a substantial narcotics operation is truly sad and reprehensible," Gonzalez said
Richard “Cristiano” Rivera, 45, supplied drugs to Hanziel “Johnny” Martinez Cintron, 39, who packaged them and sold them to Jeffrey “Doobie” Britt, 34, who then sold the drugs packets for $6 to $10, which they hid in false soda and paint cans in Bronx and Brooklyn.
All four men were charged as drug kingpins and are facing 25 years to life in prison.
Investigators also recovered six firearms, including a sawed-off shotgun, $185,000 in cash and two kilos of heroin.
Other members of the crew were charged with criminal sale of a controlled substance, criminal possession of a controlled substance and conspiracy.
Other crew members are expected to be arrested, according to officials.
Police started the investigation after getting a tip in July about the heroin sales.
The former basketball star had not yet been arraigned Thursday afternoon and there was no immediate information on his lawyer.