When Michael Avenatti’s name pops up these days, you can be pretty sure it’s not for a good reason.
The embattled attorney became even more embattled over the weekend when the L.A. Times reported that he took a significant portion of a $3 million settlement that was meant for one of his clients, Alexis Gardner, from her ex-boyfriend, Hassan Whiteside.
Whiteside, who plays for the Miami Heat, made the settlement deal with Gardner after she contacted him about a potential lawsuit. It’s not known what Gardner, who is an actress and barista according to the Times, would have sued him for.
Avenatti was entitled to $1 million of the $3 million settlement to cover legal fees. To meet the terms of the deal, Whiteside wired Avenatti the first payment of $2.75 million, which Avenatti was then supposed to pass on to Gardner. However, the settlement never made it to her. Prosecutors allege that Avenatti hid the payment and took $2.75 million to buy a share of a private jet.
RELATED: Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside
Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside
Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside
AUBURN HILLS, MI - MARCH 28: Hassan Whiteside #21 of the Miami Heat celebrates his buzzer beating game winning basket with teammates in front of Andre Drummond #0 of the Detroit Pistons at the Palace of Auburn Hills on March 28, 2017 in Auburn Hills, Michigan. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 23: Hassan Whiteside #21 of the Miami Heat reacts to winning a game against the Golden State Warriors at American Airlines Arena on January 23, 2017 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 15: Hassan Whiteside #21 of the Miami Heat reaches for a rebound next to Robin Lopez #42 of the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on January 15, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 14: Rodney McGruder #17 and Hassan Whiteside #21 of the Miami Heat react after the Heat score in the final moments of the fourth quarter during the game against Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center on November 14, 2018 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The Heat won 120-107. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Apr 5, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside (21) reacts during the second half of Tuesday night's game against the Detroit Pistons at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Robert Duyos-USA TODAY Sports TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
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Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside (21) dunks over Charlotte Hornets guard Courtney Lee (1) and center Al Jefferson (25) during the second half of Game 1 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series, Sunday, April 17, 2016, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside (21) dunks over Washington Wizards guard John Wall, back center, during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Nov. 17, 2017, in Washington. Heat guard Goran Dragic (7), of Slovenia, looks on. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Miami Heat's Hassan Whiteside (21) battles Chicago Bulls' Robin Lopez (42) for a rebound during the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Jan. 15, 2018, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
Miami Heat's Hassan Whiteside reacts late in the fourth quarter of the team's NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Thursday, March 8, 2018, in Miami. The Heat won 108-99. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
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Gardner isn’t the only client from whom Avenatti is accused of embezzling. He’s also accused of stealing settlement money from a makeup artist with a large YouTube following and a mentally ill paraplegic.
Avenatti responded to the L.A. Times on Sunday via email, saying that he’s looking forward to all the facts coming out at trial. He also said that “the clients complaining are a very small fraction of the thousands of clients I have serviced over my nearly 20-year career.”
That just a “very small fraction” of his clients are accusing him of embezzlement doesn’t mean that Avenatti is innocent by any stretch of the imagination. And let’s not forget that Avenatti is also accused of trying to extort Nike, along with other crimes like tax evasion, bank fraud, and bankruptcy fraud. Avenatti is accused of a veritable smorgasbord of white-collar crimes.
“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 support over a number of years as Hassan pursued a career in the NBA,” Whiteside and Gardner told the Los Angeles Times in a statement released by his agent.
“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.”