Former NFL player Dwight Freeney is suing Bank of America (BAC) for $20 million, his attorney announced on Tuesday.
Freeney, who played for the Indianapolis Colts and San Diego Chargers, claims in a lawsuit that he and his company Roof Group were the victims of a fraud scheme “aided and abetted” by the bank.
“In 2010, Dwight Freeney authorized Bank of America to manage his assets, including his NFL salary,” said Jeffrey B. Isaacs, Freeney’s attorney, in a press release shared with ThinkAdvisor. “Two years later, Dwight had lost more than $20 million because of BofA’s fraud scheme.”
Freeney went “to one of the nation’s biggest banks and asked for its help managing his finances,” Issacs explained. “And what did BofA do? BofA treated Dwight like a mark in a con-game.”
BofA disputes this view. "Although we sympathize with Mr. Freeney as the victim of a crime, the bank had nothing to do with the criminal scheme," said a spokesman in a statement. "The two people responsible for this wrongdoing have already been convicted."
Former-Merrill Lynch associate Eva Weinburg and her business associate and husband Michael Stern were arrested in 2012 for fraudulently wiring $2.2 million from the NFL player’s account.
"The primary wrongdoer [Stern] never worked for the bank or any of its affiliates," explained BofA, "and the other person committed her criminal conduct after she left Merrill Lynch in 2010."
(Weinburg never registered as a financial advisor, and FINRA has no records of her work in the industry.)
Freeney lost money that he and his business spent on a restaurant named Rolling Stone in Los Angeles, which was being developed in concert with Stern; Freeney's business operations were known as RSLA.
In early 2014, the former football star filed his first lawsuit on the matter. In that case, he alleged that his former attorneys "willfully blinded themselves to indications that Freeney's business partners were defrauding him of hundreds of thousands of dollars a month," according to Courthouse News Service.
“The actual losses to plaintiffs are in fact much higher, because Stern and Weinberg used [Freeney’s firm] as the vehicle to conceal and execute the fraud, requiring the infusion of millions of dollars into, and resulting in the ruin of, RSLA."
Stern admitted his guilt in January 2013 and was sentenced to five years in prison; also, he was ordered to pay $2.6 million in restitution to Freeney.
Weinberg also pleaded guilty. She received a sentence of six months in jail and was ordered to pay $2.2 million in restitution.
"Between June 2010 and October 2011, Weinberg and Stern transferred over $9.0 million of Mr. Freeney's money from the Citibank accounts into the BOA Roof Group account. Mr. Freeney was not aware of this extraordinary account activity; during most of this time period, he did not even know that the BOA Roof Group account was still active," according to the January 2014 complaint.