Michael Avenatti accused of hijacking nearly $ 2 million from NBA star, Hassan Whiteside, paid to an old girlfriend.



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Michael Avenatti arrives for his first hearing in Santa Ana federal court on April 1, 2019, in Santa Ana, California, on charges of bank fraud and wire fraud.

Michael Avenatti arrives for his first hearing in Santa Ana federal court on April 1, 2019, in Santa Ana, California, on charges of bank fraud and wire fraud.

David McNew / Getty Images

When the Miami Heat Center, Hassan Whiteside, paid out $ 2.75 million to celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti in January 2017, he was supposed to cover most of the settlement to avoid a possible lawsuit threatened by his former girlfriend, Alexis Gardner. In the end, most of the money, $ 2.5 million, was used to help Avenatti buy a share of a private jet, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Gardner, an actress and barista, hired Avenatti to help her reach an agreement with Whiteside, and the two quickly agreed on a $ 3 million deal. This transfer of January 2017 was to be the first payment. Avenatti was allowed to take a little over a million dollars in legal fees, but he did not talk to Gardner about the money. Instead, he told his client that she would receive 96 monthly payments over the next eight years. Avenatti then made eleven payments to Gardner, totaling approximately $ 194,000 before they were stopped, and he began to claim that Whiteside was not coming to the end of the transaction.

Miami Heat's # 21 Hassan Whiteside is asking fans to do better in the final moments of the Brooklyn Nets game at Barclays Center on Nov. 14, 2018 in Brooklyn, New York.

Miami Heat's # 21 Hassan Whiteside is asking fans to do better in the final moments of the Brooklyn Nets game at Barclays Center on Nov. 14, 2018 in Brooklyn, New York.

Sarah Stier / Getty Images

What the lawsuit between Gardner and Whiteside would have brought is not clear, but it seems that both wanted to remain silent. "We reached a mutually agreed agreement more than two years ago following the end of our relationship. an agreement reflecting Alexis' investment of time and support for several years while Hassan was pursuing a career in the NBA, "Whiteside and Gardner told the Los Angeles Times in a statement. "It is unfortunate that something that should remain private between us is now reported publicly. We are both left to the friendly and wish nothing more than the best one for the other. "

The alleged embezzlement is detailed in the April 10th Avenatti Indictment, pronounced by a federal grand jury in Santa Ana, California. Last month, prosecutors unveiled a series of criminal charges against the lawyer, who became famous for representing the adult movie star Stormy Daniels. The indictment, which counts 36 counts, did not identify Whiteside or Gardner, he simply referred to them as "individual 1" and "client 2". Prosecutors say Avenatti diverted money to five of his clients, one of whom was Gardner. Prosecutors also allege that Avenatti embezzled funds from Geoffrey Ernest Johnson, a paraplegic suffering from mental illness who won a settlement of $ 4 million but received only $ 124,000 from his lawyer. He also reportedly hijacked about $ 4 million from Michelle Phan, a successful makeup artist on YouTube.

Avenatti, who faces a maximum sentence of 382 years in prison, denies any wrongdoing. "No one has ever diverted money and I look forward to all the relevant documents and facts being presented at the trial," said Avenatti in an email sent Sunday morning to the Los Angeles Times. Avenatti too taken to Twitter on sunday to say, he is looking forward "to ALL details regarding the settlement of Hassan Whiteside, the money received by the customer, the money deducted for costs and expenses, etc., as well as the reason for which he paid the money".

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