Cassius Life Featured Video
James Whitner, The Whitaker Group

Source: The Whitaker Group / The Whitaker Group

James Whitner –the man behind Social Status and A Ma Maniére has been named in court documents detailing a multimillion-dollar money laundering scheme.

The 20-page report was filed Nov. 17 in the Western District of North Carolina and details the scheming, according to WSOC-TV.

It claims that Whitner, founder of the Whitaker Group, had a contract with an Oregon-based sneaker company (which happens to be the home of Nike) that included a clause that prohibited him from selling sneakers outside of the United States or selling to a reseller.

However, he’s being accused of selling those shoes to a Chinese purchaser, to the tune of 255 transactions since 2017, totaling a value of $32 million, who then resold them.

Then, the Chinese money carriers would collect large amounts of money from those engaged in illegal activities in New York City, reportedly including prostitution. Afterward, the money would be given to Whitner, completing “trade-based money laundering,” where goods are swapped for cash.

Before the money was given to Whitner, it was allegedly delivered to his friend Antwain Freeman, who was arrested in August 2021, and $1.2 million was found stashed in his closet in USPS boxes. He’d eventually pled guilty to misprision of a felony, and the $1.2 million was forfeited.

An investigation followed, and law enforcement say they tracked an additional $1.5 million being transferred.

Whitner has not been charged with any crimes, and during a call with Freeman, he claimed he was unaware of any of the illegal activity but “had a feeling some fishy sh-t was going on.”

The A Ma Maniére frontman has since released a statement on the case, claiming no wrongdoing and vowing to clear the business’s name.

“To be clear, while we take the allegations in the complaint seriously, they are unfounded, unrelated to our business or this community and unjustified,” the statement says. “Our professional inventory management team runs a transparent process built on systems that are both legally compliant and consistent with industry standards. We have also complied with all tax obligations annually.”

He continued, “We look forward to defending our business and operating model while continuing to proudly serve the communities that have embraced us over the last 20 years. This complaint will not deter us from continuing to tell our stories and build a legacy of excellence, and we will continue to vigorously defend our businesses and all that they contribute to culture, commerce and the community.”