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Ex-Timberwolves star Garnett sues ex-accountant for $77 million

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Garnett (21) blocks Phoenix Suns center Tyson Chandler (4) in the second quarter at Target Center in January of 2016. Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

MINNEAPOLIS — A wealth manager already convicted of defrauding one former NBA star also stole $77 million from Kevin Garnett, and Garnett is suing his longtime accountant and accounting firm, saying they helped it happen.

Garnett, who began and ended his NBA career with the Minnesota Timberwolves and also played for the Boston Celtics and the Brooklyn Nets, is suing accountant Michael Wertheim and his firm, Welenken CPAs, for malpractice, saying they enabled Charles Banks IV to swindle Garnett by way of businesses in which they both held an interest.

Banks pleaded guilty in April 2017 to one count of wire fraud in swindling Tim Duncan of millions. In June 2017, Banks was sentenced to four years in prison and ordered to repay Duncan $7.5 million in restitution.

Garnett's lawsuit, which demands damages in excess of $77 million, contends Wertheim "possessed actual knowledge that Banks was helping himself to millions of dollars ofGarnett's money and did nothing about it."

Mark Gaughan, Garnett's attorney, would not say why the lawsuit did not target Banks as well.

According to the lawsuit, "Banks intentionally ... 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 was initially filed in Hennepin County District Court and moved this week to U.S. District Court in Minneapolis.

In August 2017, in the wake of the resolution of Duncan's case against Banks, Garnett's representatives obtained records of Welenken CPAs and Wertheim, who had "provided accounting services to Banks, Garnett, and virtually all of the businesses Garnett shared with Banks."

Further, Wertheim and Banks set spending limits and budgets for Garnett, knowing all along that Banks was taking millions of dollars of Garnett's money for his own use, according to the filing.

In August 2013, Garnett allegedly asked Banks to wire him $40,000 of his own money, according to the lawsuit.