The famed attorney is now being accused of embezzling two million that an NBA star paid him to give to his ex-girlfriend.
Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside claims he wired $2.75 million to Avenatti in January 2017, and most of it was intended to go to his ex, Alexis Gardner, but she never saw a dime of the money, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Gardner hired Avenatti “to negotiate a settlement of a potential lawsuit against Whiteside,” the report states. Details on what she was ready to spill remain unclear but Avenatti was able to strike a $3-million deal, entitling him to a little over $1 million in legal fees.
Prosecutors allege, however, that he hid Whiteside’s payment, bagging $2.5 million for himself to buy a share of a private jet.
Avenatti’s alleged embezzlement came to light during his April 10 indictment by a federal grand jury in Santa Ana on “36 counts of fraud, perjury, failure to pay taxes, embezzlement and other financial crimes,” the LA Times writes.
Whiteside and Gardner released a statement:
“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,” Whiteside and Gardner told the Los Angeles Times in a statement released by his agent. “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.”
Gardner is one of five clients who were swindled out of millions by Avenatti, according to prosecutors. The embattled Los Angeles attorney is also accused of extortion and conspiracy in a separate federal case in New York involving Nike.
If convicted on all charges on both coasts, he faces a maximum of 382 years in prison.
Avenatti gained international attention for representing porn star Stormy Daniels in her lawsuits against Donald Trump and his former lawyer Michael Cohen, and most recently his involvement with R. Kelly’s sexual abuse case.