In new reports, Michael Avenatti has now been accused of embezzling $2.5 million in a payment that was wired to him by the Miami Heat's Hassan Whiteside, a payment meant for Whiteside's ex in a settlement agreement.
Alexis Gardner, an actress and barista, hired Avenatti to seek a financial settlement prior to a potential lawsuit against Whiteside. The cause of the dispute is unknown, however, Avenatti was able to reach a deal of $3 million with Whiteside delivering on $2.75 million in the first payment in January 2017.
Prosecutors say that Avenatti was to take $1 million in legal fees and deliver the remaining balance to Gardner. However, Avenatti pocketed $.5 million, putting the money toward a private jet according to the Los Angeles Times.
Sarah Stier/Getty Images
The embezzlement was brought to the light through bank records and the indictment of the celebrity lawyer this month by a federal grand jury in Santa Ana. The indictment spans 36 counts, and identifies Whiteside and Gardner as "Individual 1" and "Individual 2," respectively.
“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 supports over a number of years as Hassan pursued a career in the NBA,” Whiteside and Gardner told the Los Angeles Times in a joint statement.
“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.”