Retired NBA player Kevin Garnett claims in a lawsuit that his former accountant's firm helped a now-imprisoned wealth manager steal $77 million from him, reports said Thursday.
The former Minnesota Timberwolves, Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics star claims that Michael Wertheim and Welenken CPAs enabled Charles Banks IV of Atlanta to defraud him over several years through shared businesses, FOX9 Minneapolis reported.
“Banks intentionally and continuously looted Garnett of his earnings and assets for many years, including the many years that Welenken and Wertheim provided accounting services to Garnett and his business interests,” the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit asserts that Wertheim “possessed actual knowledge” that Banks stole millions from Garnett and “did nothing about it.”
Defense attorney Greg Simpson told Minneapolis’ Star Tribune that his clients deny any wrongdoing and will “vigorously” defend themselves.
FOX9, citing the lawsuit, reported that since Banks was already sentenced to federal prison for admittedly defrauding the San Antonio Spurs' Tim Duncan, he will not be a defendant in the case.
Once Garnett’s legal counsel gained access to the Kentucky-based firm’s accounting records, they determined that the 15-time NBA all-star’s funds stopped being drained after Banks was sentenced, the Tribune reported, citing the suit.
Wertheim also "worked in concert" with Banks to put Garnett on an allowance, implying financial difficulty, and set budgets that the NBA’s all-time leading salary earner was urged to follow, the suit read. According to Business Insider, Garnett retired having earned $326 million over his career.
In June, Garnett’s estranged sister, Ashley Danyelle Phelps, was arrested after allegedly trying to rob two check cashing stores. Phelps was charged with two counts of armed robbery, two counts of making a bomb threat and attempted armed robbery.
Garnett in 1995 became the first NBA player in 20 years to be drafted directly out of high school. He retired as a member of the Timberwolves in 2016.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.