2014 Eastern Conference Champions!

South Beach "Bling King" Pleads Guilty in $10 million Scam That Affected Miami Heat Players

Zafar has been linked to alleged fraud against Miami Heat players, including former forward Mike Miller, according to a witness who testified in August.

Thursday, Feb 27, 2014  |  Updated 4:29 PM EDT
View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print
Heat 2013 Playoff Run

Getty Images

Former Miami Heat guard Mike Miller allegedly lost $1.7 million in a scam in 2012.

Photos and Videos
More Photos and Videos

A former Ohio resident accused of buying $30,000 watches and cars costing more than $100,000 as part of a money laundering scheme, pleaded guilty Thursday to federal fraud charges.

Haider Zafar's plea came minutes after an IRS agent testified about the extravagant spending — including $145,307 for an Aston-Martin — and linked it to an alleged $10.1 million real estate fraud in Zafar's native Pakistan.

Zafar has also been linked to alleged fraud against Miami Heat players, including former forward Mike Miller, according to a witness who testified in August.

Authorities wouldn't comment on the allegations, but Zafar's plea deal includes a willingness to resolve a possible federal investigation in Florida. The FBI in Miami assisted in the Ohio investigation, according to the U.S. attorney's office in Columbus.

If charges are brought in Florida, where Zafar also used to live, they could be heard in Ohio under an agreement between federal authorities in both states, said Dale Williams, an assistant U.S. attorney.

At Thursday's hearing, Zafar pleaded guilty before Judge Edmund Sargus to multiple charges of wire fraud, money laundering and tax evasion. He faces dozens of years in prison at sentencing. No date has been set. Messages were left for Zafar's attorney.

A 135-count indictment filed last year described a scheme under which Zafar swindled a Washington businessman out of $10 million between 2008 and 2010.

Zafar is accused of claiming that his uncle headed the defense department in Pakistan and thus had inside information about land sales to the government, IRS agent Charles Birch testified Thursday.

Zafar persuaded his fraud victim to provide $10 million to buy parcels of land which he said could be resold to the government "at a greatly inflated price," Birch said.

In 2009, Zafar bought three watches for $13,877, $30,759 and $34,000, Birch said.

In addition to the Aston-Martin, Birch also bought a Lamborghini for $138,000 and a Maserati for $136,978, Birch said.

Zafar also was accused of failing to report $221,500 in taxable income in 2007 and failing to file tax returns between 2008 and 2010, the government said.

Get the latest headlines sent to your inbox!
View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print
Leave Comments
What's New
Get Our New iPad App
Now optimized for iPad, NBC 6... Read more
Follow Us
Sign up to receive news and updates that matter to you.
Send Us Your Story Tips
Check Out