Former Miami Heat swingman Mike Miller is strongly considering filing a $1.7 million lawsuit against his former team. Miller isn't considering suing for unpaid wages or bonus money, though. He believes that the Heat are responsible for paying him money he lost in a failed business relationship with a con man who used his connections with the Heat organization to gain Miller's trust. It's all very Charles Willeford.
The details of Miller's complaint are all laid out in a lawsuit that has been drawn up but not yet filed. The Miami Herald's Barry Jackson has seen the lawsuit, and it paints one former Heat official as an accomplice of sorts to Miller's defrauding.
According to the lawsuit, Miller was introduced to a con man named Haider Zafar by Stephen Weber, who was then the Heat's executive vice president of sales. At the time, Zafar had purchased $3 million worth of courtside seats from the Heat, but was delinquent with his payments. Miller claims that Weber urged him to meet with Zafar, and the two agreed on a business deal that ended with Zafar defrauding Miller out of $1.7 million. Miller claims that Zafar then used $700,000 of that stolen money to pay off part of his debt to the Heat.
The key allegation in Miller's lawsuit is not that Weber introduced him to Zafar, but that he did so knowing full well that Zafar was a shady con man who was very likely looking to steal from Miller. From the Herald:
“Prior to introducing Zafar to Miller and prior to representing that Zafar was a suitable business and investment partner, the Heat… and Weber had a duty to fully investigate whether that patron was, in fact, a suitable partner,” Miller’s complaint says.
“Upon discovering information that would have led a reasonable person to conclude that Zafar was a fraud,… the Heat and Weber had a duty to notify Miller, instead of continuing to endorse Zafar…. Due to the acts and omission of the Heat and Weber, Zafar was able to steal a large amount of money from Miller.”
If you're connecting the dots, the implication seems to be that Weber presented Miller to Zafar as an easy mark who could help alleviate Zafar's debt to the Heat. The lawsuit also claims that Weber, who left the team during last year's playoffs, set up numerous deals between Zafar and Heat players. James Jones and Rashard Lewis were also defrauded, but are not seeking legal recourse against the Heat.
Zafar is currently imprisoned in Ohio, awaiting trial on an unrelated fraud case.