NFL player Dwight Freeney’s ex-money manager pleads guilty in swindle
City News Service | 6/24/2013, 5:25 p.m.
LOS ANGELES, Calif. — A former money manager for National Football League star Dwight Freeney pleaded guilty today in Los Angeles to helping a co-defendant siphon about $53,000 from a debit card belonging to the San Diego Chargers defensive end.
Eva Weinberg, 49, of Hancock Park entered her plea to one count of being an accessory after the fact, a charge which carries a potential sentence of up to five years in federal prison. Prosecutors, however, have recommended probation for the defendant, who is set to be sentenced on Nov. 4.
In her plea agreement, Weinberg admitted knowing that Miami Beach developer Michael A. Stern had used the Wells Fargo card for cash withdrawals, and then helped hide the information from Freeney.
She also acknowledged that she could have foreseen that Stern had stolen nearly $2.2 million in unauthorized and fraudulent transfers from a company owned by Freeney.
The couple were arrested last year on federal wire fraud charges alleging they swindled Freeney out of millions of dollars.
In 2010, Weinberg began working as Freeney’s money manager after leaving a job as a financial adviser at Bank of America-owned Merrill Lynch.
According to court papers, she handled his personal finances, real estate investments and business dealings involving the Rolling Stone Los Angeles nightspot at the Hollywood & Highland complex.
Weinberg introduced Freeney to Stern, telling the athlete that the man’s name was Michael Millar, and that he could help Freeney with various business opportunities, according to the government.
Between June 2010 and October 2011, Weinberg wired nearly $2.2 million in more than 100 transactions from Freeney’s bank account, without his knowledge, to a company owned by Stern, according to court papers.
Stern, 53, pleaded guilty in January to one count of credit card fraud and is expected to face up to four years in federal prison at his sentencing in September. In his plea agreement, Stern admitted stealing $53,000 from Freeney two years ago using the debit card.
Stern also acknowledged paying for an airline ticket for an individual — who turned out to be a confidential informant — to travel from Miami to Los Angeles to find and destroy a computer hard drive containing files that Stern knew were possibly crucial to a federal grand jury investigation of the case.
The conversation was taped, prosecutors said.
Jeffrey B. Isaacs, a Freeney lawyer who is seeking a $3.5 million restitution order against Stern, said outside court today that the football star has been “very cooperative” with the prosecution.
“He hasn’t been a difficult celebrity type ... he just wants to see justice done in this case,” Isaacs said, referring to his recommendation in court pleadings that Weinberg be sentenced to a stiff term in jail — rather than probation — for being the “master manipulator” in the scam.