Shaquille O’Neal is over 7 feet tall and frequently appears on TV. But the former NBA star was hard to find — at least to the more than two dozen process servers hired to notify O’Neal of his indictment.
That is until Tuesday night, when O’Neal will cover the Miami Heat as an analyst for TNT when they play the Boston Celtics. The finals were played at the Cassia Center – the downtown Miami stadium once known as the FTX Arena.
Adam Moskowitz, a representative of the Florida-based investor group, said that “there was a bit of poetic justice” in suing the celebrities who supported FTX. “But at the same time, this whole saga is unnecessary and magical – it’s not helping the case. Not to advance the issue. It only delays the matter,” he said.
Tom Brady pushed crypto to his fans. This requires a lawyer to pay.
The lawsuit against O’Neal and 10 other celebrities — including former NFL quarterback Tom Brady, comedian Larry David and supermodel Gisele Bundchen — has been mounting since November. That month, FTX filed for bankruptcy It has raised questions about oversight and regulation in an industry that has at least $10 billion in assets and operates outside conventional banking rules. FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried faces multiple charges including fraud, money laundering and campaign finance violations. (Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty to the charges.)
But the class-action lawsuit in which Moskowitz is involved focuses on 11 celebrities promoting FTX, in flash ads and commercials — some of which aired during the Super Bowl. Those marketing campaigns and advocacy campaigns, the lawsuit alleges, tricked “unsophisticated investors” out of their fortunes. And promoting those risky unregistered securities without any research is a violation of Florida laws that protect investors from fraud and deception, the suit says.
O’Neill’s attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Post. In an interview last year, the former NBA star said his involvement with FTX was limited to being a “paid spokesperson for advertising.”
But since the FTX meltdown, Moskowitz says O’Neill has gone to great lengths to evade the process servers, costing his attorneys more than $100,000 and creating security risks for the process servers.
“I haven’t heard anything like this in 30 years,” Moskowitz said. “This is a well-known defendant. He’s not running away from another island. He’s in America, and he’s on TV every day – but we can’t get near him and serve him. It’s crazy.”
What you need to know about Sam Bankman-Fried and the failure of the FTX crypto exchange
After failing to reach O’Neal at his homes in Texas, Georgia and Florida and the TNT studios in Atlanta, attorneys filed a request to serve the former basketball player on social media. A judge said no.
Later, two process workers tried to drop the papers in O’Neill’s car – a move the lawyers argued in court that was in line with the requirements for filing legal documents. Moskowitz said the processors met the requirements by making eye contact with O’Neill and showing him the papers.
But before a judge could rule on that question, Moskowitz said his team had other ideas. The attorney filed a second complaint alleging his clients were defrauded by another of O’Neal’s ventures, which sells virtual tokens, or NFTs. A progress server sprung into action as they watched O’Neill cover the game between Heat and Celtic.
“We got a two-for-one settlement and filed the two complaints against him,” Moskowitz said.
Steve Pollack, co-founder of Sunset Blvd Investigations, a California-based private investigative firm, said O’Neal isn’t the only celebrity that’s been difficult for process servers to reach when they file charges and subpoenas.
“You have to remember that they have security teams and they appreciate the fans,” Pollack said. “Sometimes we only have a split second to serve them, and you have to be precise.”
It’s a process that’s “equal parts James Bond and equal parts Internet sleuth,” Polak added — and one that “really no one wants to be a part of.”
“No one loves to serve as no one loves to serve,” he said. But here’s the thing: don’t take it out on the process server, because we’re just doing our job.