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NFL Star Wants $20 Million From BofA

LOS ANGELES (CN) - NFL linebacker Dwight Freeney claims in court that Bank of America and its advisers cost him $20 million in an "elaborate and malevolent" scheme that forced him to close his Hollywood restaurant.

Freeney and his company, Roof Group LLC, sued Bank of America and its vice president Michael J. Bock, on Monday in Superior Court.

Freeney, a linebacker for the San Diego Chargers and seven-time Pro Bowler, claims the nation's second-largest bank "participated in and aided and abetted" the scheme, beginning in 2010.

According to the 133-page lawsuit: "At the height of his NFL career, and having just played in his second Super Bowl, Mr. Freeney made the fateful decision to entrust management of his finances to BOA's 'Global Wealth & Investment Management Division.' Over the next two years, Mr. Freeney became the victim of an elaborate and malevolent scheme to defraud."

Freeney's advisers included Bock; ex-wife Eva Weinberg, whom the bank appointed as a liaison; and Michael Stern, Weinberg's "paramour" and "a notorious financial predator," according to the lawsuit.

Weinberg and Stern are not parties to this lawsuit, which names seven additional bank-related employees, but not as defendants.

Freeney says Weinberg was working in private banking at BOA-owned Merrill Lynch when she was introduced to him.

Freeney, then 29, says he agreed to let Weinberg manage his financial affairs, including personal finances, real estate investments and business dealings of his restaurant, Rolling Stone L.A. He claims that Weinberg left the bank several months later, allegedly to better manage his finances.

Weinberg introduced Freeney to her then-romantic partner, developer Michael Stern, but told Freeney his name was Michael Millar, according to the complaint. Weinberg said Stern was a wealthy businessman, had $30 million on deposit with BOA, owned a private jet, and was interested in investing $7 million in Freeney's restaurant, the complaint states.

Stern, however, was in bankruptcy with declared liabilities in excess of $65 million, had a bank account balance of negative $23,000, did not own a private jet, and had no intentions of investing in the restaurant, Freeney says in the complaint.

Weinberg opened a BOA account in the name of Freeney's company, Roof Group, and bank accounts in Freeney's name at a Citibank branch in Florida, and Stern formed Arm's Reach Consulting, a front company with no employees or assets, to facilitate the scheme, Freeney says.

In 2010 and 2011, the pair allegedly transferred $9 million of Freeney's money from the Citibank accounts into the BOA Roof Group account. Freeney says he was not aware of this and did not know that the BOA Roof Group account was still active.

Weinberg and Stern wired $2.2 million in nearly 140 transactions during that time, from Freeney's Roof Group account to Stern's front company, the complaint states.

"Weinberg and Stern frequently used RSLA to conceal and disguise the actual purpose of the wire transfers Stern was initiating on an almost daily basis," Freeney says.

Freeney says his restaurant was forced to close in 2013 as a result of the financial turmoil. Bock and Weinberg were married in 1998 and divorced in 2006, remarried that same year and were divorced a second time in 2009, according to the complaint.

Freeney says Weinberg and Stern were arrested by the FBI and charged in 2012 with wire fraud for misappropriating his money.

Stern was sentenced to 5 years in prison for access device fraud and ordered to pay $2.6 million in restitution in 2013; Weinberg, as an accessory after the fact, was sentenced to 6 months in jail and ordered to pay $2.2 million in restitution, Freeney says in the complaint.

Stern was separately charged in Florida with conspiracy, mail fraud and aggravated identity theft for a $20 million mortgage fraud scheme that preceded his introduction to Freeney, and was sentenced 8 years, to run concurrent with the 5-year sentence, the lawsuit states.

"BOA, as an institution, was an integral and indispensable part of the scheme. In fact, there would have been no scheme but for BOA's recruitment of Mr. Freeney as a client and the involvement of its employees," Freeney says.

"BOA used fraudulent representations, false promises and the concealment of material facts to convince Mr. Freeney to become a BOA client, and to induce him to transfer management of his assets, investments and income to BOA," according to the complaint.

In January 2014, Freeney separately claimed that his former attorneys, Bayard P.A. and attorney Stephen Brauerman, "willfully blinded themselves" to indications that Weinberg and Stern defrauded him of hundreds of thousands of dollars a month.

He seeks compensatory and punitive damages for conspiracy, criminal fraud, theft and breach of trust.

He is represented by Jeffrey Isaacs with Isaacs Friedberg & Labaton.

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