MUHAMMAD ALI PROFESSIONAL SPORTS, INC. SCANDAL (EMBEZZLEMENT OF $21.3 MILLION DOLLARS)
*This organization had no connection to boxing champion Muhammad Ali other than use of his name for a fee. When allegations of the scandal emerged, Ali asked that his name be dropped.
Black boxing promoter Harold J. Smith was chairman of Muhammad Ali Professional Sports, Inc. (MAPS). Smith lived lived like a king and was extremely materialistic and shallow. Smith was also master showman and an expert in deflecting blame. He also had the gift of gab.
Smith was known to strut around town, giving the impression that he was a close friend to Muhammad Ali. His lavish spending became suspect-early on. He was known to rent lavish suites and eat expensive food. He also had a appetite for blondes and he was seen all over town in exotic cars.
In 1981, Smith was named by Wells Fargo Bank in a $21.3 million civil embezzlement suit.
He claimed that bank officials wanted to kill him and his family. Smith also said that he had taken his family to safety in Switzerland and he claimed that bank officials had kidnapped his son for a week, 'making me promise to leave the country, which I did.' The boy was returned shortly afterwards. Smith would eventually leave Switzerland and settle in Puerto Rico.
Smith had a cohort at Wells Fargo Bank, named L. Ben Lewis (pictured above). Lewis was a loan officer at the Beverly Hills Branch and was allegedly the ring leader in the scam. After the scandal was made public, Lewis disappeared for a week but was later apprehended and named a defendant in the suit.
It was alleged that Lewis' embezzlement of $21.3 million financed his lifestyle as well as Smith's.
The "MAPS" accounts were frozen during the investigation.
When a judge ordered Smith freed on $10,000 bail to surrender himself in North Carolina on additional charges, Smith didn't go and the judge ordered him back to jail.
Since the scandal, little is known on the outcome of Smith and Lewis. Very little information is available. They are no longer in the spotlight nor are they seen at boxing events.