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Mike Miller mulling lawsuit against Heat; Dolphins call about Pro Bowler; UM, Marlins

FRIDAY BUZZ COLUMN

Mike Miller, a popular and contributing piece of two Heat championship teams before the team released him in July, is strongly considering filing a lawsuit against the team because he believes the franchise bears some responsibility for him being swindled by a con man, his attorney tells us.

Miller, who now plays for the Memphis Grizzlies, lost $1.7 million in a scam allegedly orchestrated by Haider Zafar, a South Beach bling king who presented himself as a member of a wealthy Pakistani family.

According to Miller's complaint that has been drawn up but not yet filed, a Heat employee introduced Miller to Zafar, and Zafar used $700,000 of the money he stole from Miller to pay for courtside Heat tickets.

Settlement talks between Miller and the Heat have stalled. Miller asked for that $700,000 back from the Heat, plus attorney’s fees, but “the parties were far apart,” Miller’s attorney, Andrew Fine, said.

In the potential lawsuit, Miller is seeking a lot more: the entire $1.7 million that he lost in Zafar’s scam.

According to the complaint which I obtained, Zafar last December agreed to spend $3 million over three seasons for Heat courtside seats and other benefits but did not submit payment.

A month later, Zafar asked Stephen Weber, who was then the Heat’s executive vice president/sales, to introduce him to “Heat players with businesses Zafar… could invest in.”

According to the complaint, Miller, “at Weber’s urging, met with Zafar at Heat offices,” and Weber told Miller that Zafar was “the real deal.”

The complaint said at the time of that January meeting, the Heat and Weber “knew that Zafar had not paid his obligation to the Heat and had disclosed he was using a false, or at least, unofficial, identity and had disclosed he was under IRS investigation.”

Miller and Zafar then began a relationship in which Miller allegedly was defrauded of $2 million, of which $300,000 was eventually repaid to Miller.

In February, Miller sent Zafar $2 million to invest in what Zafar portrayed as a private investment fund with a high-interest yield. Fine said Zafar had access to no such fund and ended up keeping most of Miller’s money.

Zafar, who is imprisoned in Ohio awaiting trial on fraud charges in an unrelated case, also reneged on a promise to invest $40 million in three of Miller’s businesses.

Miller determined that Zafar was a fraud in late April. Until that point, “Weber continued to vouch for Zafar even though he never paid” some of the $1 million due the Heat, according to Miller's complaint.

Between February and April, Zafar paid $700,000 of the money due for the courtside tickets. Miller's complaint claims that cash was money that Zafar stole from Miller, and the Heat needs to give that money back to Miller.

“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.”

Besides the Heat, Weber and the team’s seat licensing company are also named as defendants in the complaint. The complaint claims Weber, who left the Heat during the playoffs, “occasionally set up side deals for his own benefit.”

Weber declined to comment.

Asked for a comment about the potential Miller lawsuit, Heat outside counsel Alan Fein said: "We were distressed to learn that the Heat and the members of the Heat family were victimized by an elaborate fraud conducted by an individual currently in custody in Ohio. We continue to remain in constant contact with the appropriate federal authorities investigating this fraud."

Heat forwards James Jones and Rashard Lewis also were defrauded by Zafar and suffered undisclosed losses, but neither is pursuing claims against the team.

Fine said Miller “has good feelings for the organization. He just feels like they should accept their share of responsibility for this situation.”

The Heat used the one-time amnesty clause on Miller because keeping him would have resulted in $17 million in luxury tax payments, president Pat Riley said.

“Losing a guy like Mike Miller didn’t make us better,” Riley told The Souix Falls (S.D.) Chamber of Commerce Tuesday in an appearance to promote the Heat’s NBDL team. “We wish him nothing but the best. I’d like to have him back in the seventh game.”

CHATTER

### We hear the Dolphins are among several teams that have called about four-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Jay Ratliff, who was released by Dallas and hasn’t played this season because of sports hernia surgery.

Ratliff, 32, hopes to meet with teams within a couple of weeks and the Dolphins are among teams that interest him. He hopes to play this season, but it's not determined if he will. He has been cleared medically to resume football activities

The Dolphins are deep at defensive tackle with Paul Soliai, Randy Starks and Jared Odrick, but Soliai and Starks are impending free agents and contract talks have gone nowhere.

The Dolphins gave Soliai what they portrayed as a take-it-or-leave-it offer in August, which he rejected. Talks haven't resumed since. The Dolphins' offer to Starks in February was nowhere close to what he's seeking, and his camp expects him to become a free agent.

The Dolphins value Soliai, and nobody should be surprised if they eventually reach a deal. The Dolphins also view Odrick as a longterm solution at tackle. But if the Dolphins are confident that Ratliff is over his health problems -- including a groin tear -- it wouldn't be surprising if they offer him a multiyear deal. Remember, Jeff Ireland was part of the Dallas front office that drafted him, and Ratliff has been a very good player over the years.

### One Hurricanes player said Al Golden got emotional talking to the team after the NCAA saga concluded Tuesday.

### Has UM’s reputation been damaged by the Nevin Shapiro mess? “No,” insisted Leonard Abess, chairman of UM’s Board of Trustees. “It has been enhanced because we handled it well… It’s embarrassing we fell into a position that needed to be investigated, but we handled it as well as we can. Our reputation is intact.”

### Remember that threat we reported last November that the NCAA sent by mail to former Canes, saying if they don't talk to the NCAA, they would be barred from UM's campus?

A bunch of players didn't talk but feared they would be banned from UM's weight room, which many like to use in the offseason. But the NCAA, whose reputation was damaged enough by its improprities in the case, decided not to prohibit any former Canes from going on campus.

### Four-star Jacksonville based power forward Dante Buford visited UM this week and also is considering South Carolina and Oklahoma.

### The Marlins have budgeted a payroll between $40 million and $50 million and will lower some season ticket and individual ticket prices. (Some prices will stay the same. None will increase.)

### Marlins president David Samson, on Thursday: “I promise you this: We’re not going to lose 100 games next year. Not close. Look what the Red Sox did. They had the same record we did in 2012. They turned it around to be in the World Series in 2013. Well it’s time for us to do the same.” He said Marlins Park hasn’t booked October concerts because “we should be and will be playing playoff games.”       

Comments

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Move to Vegas already

David Samson is such a weasely little POS, only reason he has that job is that his daddy-in-law won't fire him.

Absolutely classless individual, as anyone who's spent more than half an hour with him can attest to.

Oh, Boston had the same record as the Marlins in 2012?

Great, so just up your payroll from $39M to Boston's $159M and we'll all come out for the games and the great October playoff run next year.

Tool.

rand

Bravo, Move!

Ed

Dont know that Miller has a case, but the Heat should pay him anyway.

Gabriel

Considering all the fraud cases involving shady investors in the last decade I would do my own due diligence regarding any investment

Penguin

Miller, and the rest of us, need to be very careful when something seems like too much of a good thing. That means that it is.

witz

Looks like Mike was a fool, easily parted from his money. Looks like he has a case against Weber. Looks like Weber couldn't pay him the $1.7 mil. Looks like the Heat's the only other includable alternative deendant. Looks like lotsa luck with that, Mike.

Buzz

good lord how'd dillusional is Samson?!! he honestly thinks this team will be in the playoffs or WS next year?! that this minor league team will magically turn it around?!! just be quiet. this team will go NOWHERE as long as you and your step-daddy are in charge.

wzard

Have a little faith Marlins fans--Next year we will be better with Whose on first, Watts on second, and Idunno on third.

TheSergeantMajor

Herald writer Linda Robertson shows no heart and an unexplained vindictiveness in her latest article blasting the NCAA in its handle/doling out of UM sanctions and penalties.

How is it that Linda fails to consider ALL the penalties already served($$ repaid by players, suspensions, severe recruiting hit to UM, national embarrassment), not to mention those missed bowl and ACCCG penalties served by an entirely INNOCENT staff, football team of players, and national fan base over 2+ seasons?

Crickets from Linda. Shame on her! She's fallen into that largely national media trap of vultures. What is she doing...... interviewing for a spot at ESPN with Mark May by publishing this outrageous piece against the home-town school?

They ought to run her butt out of Miami.

Jonny

It is unfair to criticize Linda for "writing" this piece when in fact all she did was Google it. True, she did submit this "article" to the Herald as her own work product, but don't we all cut and paste a little bit every now and then?

And, bless her reporting heart, she gets paid to do it! So lighten up, Linda critics. If Linda wants to make believe she is an investigative reporter four days after everyone else has produced "original" versions of the piece, let her. She's just milking the system, and just in time to collect a check - isn't today Friday?

UMike

Samson and Loria..........TWO SCUM BAGS!

Kevin

Typical of Ireland to go look for a D lineman rather than one for the O line. Soliai is one of the best in NFL and he has to fight to get paid, but he gave Hartline 30 mil when no one else would have. This should show we still have a moron as a GM. Our D line is full and very good. Pay them. Stop looking for Cowboy rejects. Do your job and find some Oline guys who can block.

jmike

witz, sorry to tell you this but he has a great case against the Heat. An officer (EVP) of the Heat organization introduced and vouched for this person. As an officer (Weber) of a corporation speaks for the Heat as a whole. Miller will collect.

Gary

Isn't Linda Robertson the writer that wrote that UM should get another name besides the Hurricanes after Andrew hit? She's a nut ball and a hack.

Quis

1 of thousands who have been duped. gotta be more careful. Hope he gets paid thou

FJEFF

hey Barry ...did samson just finish a few bong hits before talking to you? How stoned was he at the time he made the above comments? or just more samson smoke outta his blowhole.

NOneofUrBixWax

By all means, sue these Miami sHeat shysters. What a shame Pat Riley ended up mixing up with these scums.

tony in miami

tell to mr. Samson change the pot he's using because they don't have the talent on the field,- neither in the minors - and the management -starting with him -is very low professional, and nobody want to play for this organization after last year break (and lies to players they later trade to Toronto)

Arod

What national fan base? The'Canes don't even have a local one!

mike

Carnival should just write a check to make this go away. Like the cruise ships haven't been enough of an embarrassment?

Marios

What a puss, he collected about 20 Million and a ring in 2 years for 15 minutes a game whenever he wasn't nursing an injury and now is crying over $700,000?

So if he makes good money it's all for him but if he loses the money it's on the Heat.

Take it like a man, if you invest your money on an Arab dude then get screwed you should have known better, go away.
Oh yeah, you're a Florida Gator, I forgot. That great education paying off again.

Lt. Lois Einhorn

Mike Miller is absolutely right to sue the Heat and I am SHOCKED that Stephen Weber hasn't been fired from the organization yet.

This is a guy who SET UP meetings with NBA players and his criminal scumbag friend in the HEAT'S facilities.

He's absolutely responsible for the players losing their money and unfortunately the Heat are on the hook for having employed him.

Barry Jackson

Lois, Weber was fired.

Lt. Lois Einhorn

Ah, didn't catch that, thanks. Don't think it'll save the Heat though, looks like a pretty open and shut case.

Dorothy

next week Samson will announce he'll be playing the mayor of munchkins in the off broadway remake of the Wiz

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