Huyghue, a lawyer and former United Football League commissioner, testified that he sold a $1.5 million interest to Shapiro in Huyghue’s Axcess sports agency because he needed his money — not because of his access to UM athletes. Huyghue also testified that he teamed up with Shapiro because of the stature of the Miami law firm, Shook, Hardy & Bacon, that advised him on the investment in 2003. Huyghue said that the firm’s lawyers told him the UM booster had a net worth of more than $5 million.
Allen, a UM graduate, testified in his deposition that Shapiro gave cash to several UM players. Allen, who worked at Axcess for less than a year, also said under oath that he gave small amounts of his own money to Canes’ NFL prospects. He also testified that Shapiro gave him $3,000 to entertain a trio of Canes’ high school recruits at a local strip club.
Torres’ testimony during last month’s deposition indicated that Shapiro put far more money into Axcess: $3.3 million. He also said Shapiro stole at least $9 million from his investors to pay off debts from gambling on football and basketball games. He also said that Shapiro took another $7 million to put into a North Carolina golf course resort deal.
Torres repeatedly testified that Shapiro’s main lawyer, Marc Levinson, with whom he grew up on Miami Beach, and other attorneys at Shook, Hardy & Bacon, were fully aware that Shapiro took money from new investors to diversify into areas unrelated to his grocery brokerage business. Torres also said under oath Shapiro used some of the new funds to pay back old investors, and that Levinson and other lawyers at the firm knew about his scheme.
Torres testified he advised Shapiro that he was “dead against” his investing in Axcess because he “didn’t have the cash” — contradicting Huyghue’s understanding of the UM booster’s net worth.
Torres also said under oath that he advised Shook, Hardy & Bacon of Shapiro’s financial straits before the Axcess deal.
The bankruptcy trustee for Shapiro’s former company, Capitol Investments USA, has sued Levinson and the 500-lawyer firm in a bid to recover some of the $110 million lost by victims fleeced by the convicted businessman.
The firm’s lawyers provided advice to Shapiro from 2003 to 2009 on his investment in Axcess while he was a UM booster, as well as on his dealings with investors who lent him millions of dollars at high interest rates in the belief the funds were for his grocery brokerage business.
The suit, which names Levinson and Shook, Hardy & Bacon as defendants, accuses them of “aiding and abetting” Shapiro’s violations of federal securities laws during his investment scam, as well as his violations of NCAA regulations involving his alleged cash payments to UM star athletes.
Shook, Hardy & Bacon, which is based in Kansas City, Mo., with a major office in Miami, has said it was “disappointed” over the legal fight with the bankruptcy trustee.
“We will diligently defend ourselves in this case, and will continue our commitment to resolve any issues that arise in a reasonable, judicious and professional manner,” the firm’s statement said. It added: “Nevin Shapiro deceived many people, including those closest to him, and is serving a prison sentence for his reprehensible conduct.”