Plea deal in Ohio fraud case linked to Miami Heat

A former Ohio man accused of operating multimillion-dollar

frauds that include allegations he cheated Miami Heat basketball

players of millions of dollars indicated Tuesday that he’ll plead

guilty to wire fraud, money laundering and tax evasion charges.

A 135-count indictment filed this year describes a scheme under

which Haider Zafar allegedly swindled a Washington, D.C.,

businessman out of $10 million between 2008 and 2010.

A witness who testified against Zafar in August alleged Zafar

also defrauded Heat players, including former forward Mike Miller.

The witness, international investment attorney Andrew Fine, said

the players and other Florida residents invested $8 million with

Zafar.

The players weren’t mentioned in the criminal complaint, but

Zafar’s plea deal includes his willingness to resolve a possible

federal investigation in Florida. Zafar wants to tie up all loose

ends in the cases against him, Zafar’s attorney, Sam Shamansky,

said Tuesday.

In documents filed Tuesday in federal court in Columbus, Zafar

agreed to plead guilty to 30 counts and to forfeit $10 million. The

U.S. attorney’s office in Columbus declined to comment. No date was

scheduled for a judge to accept Zafar’s guilty plea.

A criminal complaint said Zafar, a Pakistan native and legal

U.S. resident, used questionable documents to solicit the funds

from businessman Patwinder Sidhu for real estate ventures in

Pakistan.

The complaint accused Zafar, 36, of telling Sidhu that his uncle

was Pakistan’s defense minister and was responsible for buying

property for that country’s government. It says Zafar told Sidhu

they could buy land in Pakistan and later sell it to the government

for a profit.

The Heat has said it remains in contact with the authorities

handling the investigation.

Prosecutors allege Zafar used his investor’s money to fuel an

opulent life. The indictment mentions purchases of several luxury

cars, including a 2009 Rolls-Royce Phantom convertible, diamonds

and watches, among other items.