LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — One of the NFL’s highest-paid defensive players announced a lawsuit Tuesday alleging Bank of America “aided and abetted” a fraud scheme that cost him $20 million.
Attorneys for Dwight Freeney, a defensive end and linebacker who last played for the San Diego Chargers met with reporters in downtown Los Angeles to officially announce filing the complaint in Los Angeles Superior Court.
According to the lawsuit (PDF), Freeney authorized BofA in 2010 to manage his assets, including his NFL salary.
In addition to BofA, the complaint names Michael Bock, a senior vice-president of the bank’s Global Wealth & Investment Management unit, as a defendant.
Attorneys say BofA did not disclose to Freeney that Eva Weinberg – who was assigned by BofA to manage Freeney’s business affairs – was only a part-time employee at BofA and was not licensed to give Freeney investment advice.
The complaint also alleges BofA, Bock and Weinberg also lied to Freeney about the true identity of Michael Stern, who was brought onto Freeney’s BofA financial team.
According to attorneys, Stern was introduced to Freeney as “Michael Millar”, a successful Miami Beach businessman, but who was allegedly linked to failed real estate ventures and allegations of bribing Miami city officials.
Once Weinberg and Stern gained control of Freeney’s finances, they “promptly went about stealing at least $8.5 million,” according to the complaint.
“BofA’s deceitfulness is at the heart of our lawsuit,” said attorney Jeffrey Isaacs. “BofA kept Dwight completely in the dark about the qualifications and the backgrounds of the people managing his money.”
A statement from BofA spokesman Bill Halldin denied the bank played any role in the alleged scheme.
“The two people responsible for this wrongdoing have already been convicted,” Halldin said. “The primary wrongdoer never worked for the bank or any of its affiliates and the other person committed her criminal conduct after she left Merrill Lynch in 2010.”
Freeney, who has the 20th best record in NFL history for sacking quarterbacks, earned a Super Bowl ring in 2007, and played in three AFC championship games, has played for the Chargers for the last two seasons. He is currently an unrestricted free agent.