During his illustrious 21-year NBA career, Kevin Garnett was a 15-time all-star, named the league’s MVP in 2004, and won a championship with the Boston Celtics in 2008. He also is the Minnesota Timberwolves’ all-time leader in steals. But Garnett doesn’t take too kindly to having $77 million stolen from him. That’s what he is accusing his former accountant and a now-jailed wealth manager of doing in a lawsuit.
The federal malpractice lawsuit alleges that Kentucky-based accountant Michael Wertheim and Welenken CPAs knowingly helped Charles A. Banks IV to defraud Garnett over several years through business ventures in which Garnett and Banks shared an interest.
Wertheim “possessed actual knowledge that Banks was helping himself to millions of dollars of Garnett’s money and did nothing about it,” according to the suit, which was moved [Sept. 5] from Hennepin County District Court to U.S. District Court in Minneapolis.
Defense attorney Greg Simpson said his clients “intend to vigorously defend themselves against the allegations, deny any wrongdoing and believe the suit lacks merit. They will be moving to dismiss it at an early stage.”
Garnett’s attorney, Mark Gaughan, would only say that “based upon the facts, we are confident this matter ultimately will be resolved in Mr. Garnett’s favor.”
The suit said Wertheim “took direction from Banks and for some reason chose to have virtually no contact with Garnett,” according to the article.
This isn’t the first NBA superstar that this Banks guy has screwed over. He was sentenced to four years in federal prison in June 2017 for defrauding more than $7 million from San Antonio Spurs legend Tim Duncan.
The funny thing is, even though Duncan and Garnett share an association with Banks, the two hated each other on the court. A 2012 Sports Illustrated profile on Duncan revealed:
In fact, Duncan hates Kevin Garnett. Hates him the way liberals hate Sean Hannity. This information comes from very reliable sources, who talk about how KG has made a career of trying to punk Duncan, baiting him and slapping him and whispering really weird smack into his ear. They talk about how funny this is, because the worst thing you can do as an opponent is piss off Duncan. Then, as Malik Rose says, “he f—— destroys you.” Duncan’s lifetime numbers versus Garnett’s teams, by the way: 19.4 points per game, 11.6 boards and a 44–17 record, including the postseason.
Duncan is diplomatic about the topic. Asked if perhaps all those years battling Garnett have softened his feelings for the man, led to a Magic-Larry type of kinship, Duncan leans back on the couch in his hotel room and grins. There is a pause. A longer pause. Finally he says, “Define kinship.”
There’s even a rumored incident during a playoff game between the Timberwolves and the Spurs on May 9, 1999, when right before Duncan was about to shoot a free throw, Garnett allegedly told him, “Happy Mother’s Day, motherfucker.” Duncan’s mother passed away of breast cancer, one day before his 14th birthday in 1990.
Yes, Garnett was kind of a prick on the court, but getting bilked out of $77 million (allegedly!) is pretty shitty. And it would be historic:
Kevin Garnett says he had $77 million stolen from him, which would equal roughly 46% of his on-Court, post-tax career earnings. Would be highest single relationship fraud in sports history https://t.co/xZu04wFzbW
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) September 7, 2018
The lawsuit points to one example of how Banks stole from Garnett:
California-based Hammer Holdings made investments chosen by Banks under the supposed arrangement that Garnett and Banks each held a 50-50 interest. However, Garnett learned that Banks “helped himself to millions of dollars of Hammer’s funds,” even though Garnett put in $57 million at Banks’ direction while Banks contributed about $2.5 million.
Wertheim was also “fully aware” that Banks moved $14.8 million of Garnett’s personal money into Hammer, and that Banks then “borrowed” nearly $8 million of that and took another $3 million in two other transactions.
We’ll see if Garnett, who was once the highest-paid player in the NBA, will get his money back. Until then, the ball is in the court’s … court.
Image: Associated Press