Two charged in $2.2M scheme
LOS ANGELES -- A financial adviser for Indianapolis Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney and the adviser's lover have been arrested on federal wire fraud charges that allege they swindled about $2.2 million from the lineman.
Eva Weinberg, 48, of Los Angeles, and Michael Stern, 51, of Miami, were arrested last week by FBI agents who believe the couple were trying to flee the United States.
Stern appeared in a Miami courtroom Wednesday and will be extradited in the coming weeks to California, where he and Weinberg face charges.
"Mr. Stern denies he violated the law and it's his position he and Ms. Weinberg didn't steal any money from Mr. Freeney," said Stern's attorney, Henry Bell.
Weinberg has posted $225,000 bond. A phone message left for her attorney, Mark Byrne, was not immediately returned. Freeney was not available for comment, his publicist said.
An FBI affidavit only identified Freeney by his initials, but Bell confirmed that the perennial Pro Bowler was the purported victim.
Weinberg worked as Freeney's financial adviser for the past two years after leaving Bank of America Corp.'s Merrill Lynch financial management division. She handled his personal finances, real estate investments and business dealings involving a Hollywood restaurant, Rolling Stone LA.
About $2.2 million was wired in nearly 140 separate transactions from Freeney's bank account by Weinberg to Arm's Reach Consulting, a company owned by Stern, between June 2010 and October 2011, authorities said. Freeney didn't approve the transfers and was unaware Stern was the recipient.
Stern told a confidential informant in recorded conversations that the money transferred to him by Weinberg was to be used to pay his bills and personal expenses, according to the affidavit. He also said $1.5 million was going to be put toward buying a private jet, court records show.
The informant also told investigators that Stern intended to flee the U.S., possibly to the Bahamas, Trinidad or Israel, and had plans to travel to Los Angeles to get Weinberg before she was arrested.
Freeney, 32, has recorded 102½ sacks in his 10-year professional career and is scheduled to make a base salary of $14 million in 2012.
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press
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