Former NBA player Kermit Washington arrested in California, believed to be connected to federal investigation in Kansas City

Federal authorities arrested Kermit Washington, once a starting forward for several NBA teams in the 1970s and 80s, on Tuesday in a case tied to a Kansas City investigation, according to a report in TMZ.

Agents with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Internal Revenue Service apprehended Washington in Los Angeles on Tuesday, the report says.

Washington’s arrest is believed to be linked to a tax fraud case involving Ron Mix, a former NFL player who became a lawyer whose practice involved filing worker’s compensation claims on behalf of former professional athletes in California.

Mix pleaded guilty to one count of tax fraud in federal court in Kansas City on Monday.

According to Mix’s plea agreement, a person referred to in court documents as “Individual F” referred professional athletes to Mix, who in turn made charitable donations to The Sixth Man Foundation, which did business as a tax-exempt 501(c)3 charity called Project Contact Africa.

According to Mix’s plea agreement, Individual F used most of the charitable donations received by Mix for his or her own personal use rather than for charitable purposes.

Court records indicate that Mix made $155,000 in donations to Project Contact Africa and then claimed the donations, which authorities charged amounted to payments for law client referrals, as deductions on his tax returns. (Mix, according to his plea agreement, was unaware that his donations were used for personal expenses by Individual F.)

Don Ledford, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Missouri, declined to answer questions about Washington’s arrest and whether it was connected to Mix’s tax fraud case.

Ledford did say that the U.S. Attorney in Kansas City would hold a press conference on Wednesday morning.

A Facebook page for Project Contact Africa lists Washington as its founder. It purported to fight hunger and improve education in Kenya and East Africa.

Washington played in the NBA from 1973 to 1988. He made the NBA All-Star team in 1980 while playing for the Portland Trail Blazers. But Washington may be best known for a vicious punch he landed on Houston Rockets player Rudy Tomjanovich during an on-court scuffle in 1977 while Washington played for the Los Angeles Lakers. Tomjanovich, who later coached the Rockets, suffered extensive injuries from Washington’s blow, and missed the rest of that season. The NBA suspended Washington for 26 games.

Mix was an NFL Hall of Fame offensive lineman for the San Diego Chargers.

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