A one-time Miami Beach developer and a California business manager were arrested Friday on federal wire fraud charges for allegedly swindling NFL football star Dwight Freeney out of over $2 million in a California restaurant deal, court records show.
Michael A. Stern, who once acted as an undercover informant to expose payoffs to Miami Beach building officials, was charged along with Freeney's Los Angeles business manager, Eva Weinberg. They are accused of siphoning money from Freeney's accounts and sending it to a dummy account that Stern tapped to pay for his personal expenses, records show.
According to the federal complaint, Weinberg and Stern were arrested after a lengthy investigation revealed how they conspired to defraud Freeney, a defensive end for the Indianapolis Colts football team. According to court documents, Weinberg is a financial advisor at Bank of America who worked with Freeney and controlled several of his accounts. Weinberg then introduced Freeney to Stern, who is also a financial advisor.
The federal charges claim that Weinberg and Stern between May 2010 and October 2011 made $2.2 million in fraudulent transfers from Dwight's accounts to Arms Reach Consulting, a company controlled by Stern.
Freeney, who officials claim was romantically involved with Weinberg, caught wind that Stern and Weinberg were dating and began to look into the cash transfers. Last fall, Freeney discovered some $2 million in unapproved wire transfers from his restaurant-investment account to a company called Arm's Reach Consulting, the affidavit says. Freeney then contacted the FBI to alert them of the scam.
Federal investigators learned that Stern had made withdrawals from the Arm's Reach account, as did Stern's ex-wife and other Miami Beach associates, court records show. Items that Weinberg and Stern purchased with Freeney's cash included expensive sunglasses and stays in luxury hotels. They also planned on buying a private jet for $1.5 million that they would use to leave the country, according to court papers.
Stern was once an active real-estate developer on Miami Beach, best known for his attempt to knock down a historic coral rock house on Collins Avenue. But his business collapsed under more than $50 million in outstanding loans, and he filed for bankruptcy in 2009.
Prosecutors on Wednesday will ask a judge to order Stern to be extradited from Miami to California to face trial.