Celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti is accused of stealing $2 million from an ex-girlfriend of NBA star Hassan Whiteside. The embattled attorney is accused of hiding $2 million intended for Whiteside's former girlfriend, Alexis Gardner.
Avenatti was Gardner's lawyer when the actress and barista settled with the Miami Heat star to avoid a potential lawsuit.
According to the L.A. Times, the parties agreed to a $3 million payout, and Whiteside made an initial payment of $2.75 million.
Normally the money is placed in escrow which is maintained by Avenatti before funds are paid out to the plaintiff.
Avenatti was supposed to get $1 million in legal fees. But instead of issuing a $2 million check to Gardner, he spent the cash on a private jet for himself, according to documents obtained by the Times.
A federal grand jury returned a 36-count indictment against Avenatti following his arrest in New York City for attempting to shake down Nike.
The 36-count indictment spells out Avenatti's alleged financial crimes that involved stealing millions from his own clients.
He is also charged with evading $10 million in income taxes, bank fraud, perjury and bankruptcy fraud. If convicted, Avenatti faces life in prison.
Gardner told federal investigators that Avenatti and Whiteside agreed on a settlement more than two years after the end of their relationship.
She wanted to be paid for her time and support of the NBA star as he "pursued a career in the NBA."
Whiteside and Gardner never intended the legal settlement to go public.
"It's 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 and Gardner said in a statement.
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