Avenatti accused of embezzling nearly $2 million that NBA player paid ex-girlfriend
When Hassan Whiteside of the Miami Heat wired $2.75 million to Michael Avenatti in January 2017, the pro basketball player intended most of the money to go to his former girlfriend, Alexis Gardner.
Avenatti was Gardner’s attorney. An actress and barista, she’d hired him just a few weeks before to negotiate a settlement of a potential lawsuit against Whiteside. It’s unclear what she would have alleged. Avenatti quickly struck a $3-million deal, and the $2.75 million was Whiteside’s first payment.
Avenatti, prosecutors say, was entitled to take just over $1 million in legal fees, leaving the rest for Gardner.
Instead, they allege, Avenatti hid Whiteside’s payment from her and immediately took $2.5 million to buy a share of a private jet.