Avenatti negotiated a $3M payment to Whiteside’s ex-girlfriend but didn’t tell her of a payment and pocketed most of the money.
Miami Heat player Hassan Whiteside’s multimillion-dollar payment to a former girlfriend is part of an indictment against high-profile attorney Michael Avenatti, who is accused of bilking clients out millions, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday, citing prosecutors’ claims in court papers and Avenatti’s bank records in the wake of the multi-count indictment on April 10.
Avenatti negotiated a $3 million settlement between Whiteside and Avenatti’s client, Alexis Gardner, with Whiteside wiring $2.75 million to Avenatti. It’s unclear what Gardner would’ve alleged if the deal hadn’t been struck.
However, instead of taking $1 million prosecutors say he was due in legal fees, Avenatti instead is accused of hiding the payment from Gardner and using $2.5 million of it to buy a share in a jet.
Prosecutors’ allegations are part of a 36-count indictment that covers a broad array of alleged financial crimes committed by Avenatti. Whiteside is identified as “Individual 1” and Gardner as “Client 2” in the court papers.
Whiteside and Gardner issued a statement to the Times, via Whiteside’s agent:
“We entered into a mutually agreed upon settlement more than two years ago following the end of our relationship; a settlement that reflected Alexis’ investment of time and support over a number of years as Hassan pursued a career in the NBA. It is unfortunate that something that was meant to be kept private between us is now being publicly reported. We have both moved on amicably and wish nothing but the best for each other.”
Whiteside, 29, signed a four-year, $98.4 million deal with the Heat in 2016. He is due to be paid more than $27 million in 2019-20.
Per the Times report, after Whiteside and Gardner’s relationship ended, Avenatti negotiated Gardner’s settlement with Whiteside, though Avenatti never gave her a copy of it. The deal required the NBA player to pay her $2.75 million in January 2017 with the remaining $250,000 due Nov. 1, 2020, the indictment reads.
Gardner, 27, is one of five clients Avenatti is accused of stealing from. Among the other alleged victims are a mentally ill paraplegic man who prosecutors say received only $124,000 of a $4 million settlement and a makeup artist with 8.8 million YouTube followers who Avenatti is accused of embezzling out of $4 million.
If convicted on all charges, Avenatti — who rose to fame as the attorney for Stormy Daniels in her hush-money claims against President Donald Trump — faces a maximum of 382 years in prison.
He denies any wrongdoing.
“No monies were ever embezzled from anyone and I look forward to all of the relevant documents and facts being presented at trial,” he said Sunday by email to the Times.