A Fairfax County lawyer, once accused of misusing former boxing champion Muhammad Ali's money, has been barred temporarlly from the practice of law in Virginia and is being investigated by a Northern Virginia prosecutor on charges related to his business dealings.
However, Spiros Anthony, subject of a celebrated dispute with the boxer last year and disciplinary action by the Virginia State Bar, has left the country, a secretary in his office said yesterday. He, "would not be in (the office) - ever," the secretary said.
Virginia National Bank this week filed papers in Arlington Circuit Court claiming that the 35-year-old lawyer owes it $201,075.
Assistant Arlington Commonwealth's Attorney Kenneth Melson said Anthony's business dealings are the subject of a criminal investigation by the office.
In Richmond, a spokesman for the Virginia State Bar said Anthony's license will be suspended for 18 months, effective tomorrow, on charges that he settled an Alexandria woman's estate out of court without the woman's permission.
The bar's action is the first disciplinary action against Anthony, the spokesman said. Last year in a civil court action, Ali accused the lawyer of having "breached his . . . duties" as a trustee of $6.1 million the fighter won from his victory over Ken Norton in a September 1976 fight in New York.
Anthony later agreed to pay Ali $390,000 at the rate of $20,000 a month as an out-of-court settlement of the boxer's $2 million suit. Ali had accused Anthony of having misued fight money spending it on himself by buying $43,350 worth of rare French porcelian and other antiques in Alexandria. The money was supposed to be used to pay the fighter's taxes, Ali's suit said.
The precise nature of the Arlington investigation could not be learned last night, but an FBI official said the agency has been asked by local law enforcement officials to attempt to locate Anthony.
"He just disappeared last Tuesday and didn't tell anybody where he is," said a lawyer who shares space with Anthony in a Leesburg Pike office building.
James Korman, a lawyer for Virginia National Bank, said yesterday that the bank has been unable to locate Anthony and press its claim for the monies that the lawyer and his wife supposedly have borrowed. "Anthony's whole situation is incomprehensible," Korman said.
The bank has asked the court to attach Anthony's properties, included Effie's Botique, Bailey's Gift Shop and SSA Enterprises Inc., a company whose purpose could not be determined last night. In papers connected with the filing, the bank said it believes Anthony is a fugitive from justice and is insolvent.
Neither side admitted any wrongdoing as part of the Ali settlement. Ali's attorney could not be reached for comment yesterday to determine if the settlement was paid to Ali. If Anthony missed one payment, according to the agreement he would have to pay $625,000, less payments already made.
According to court records filed in connection with the Ali suit, Anthony, a Howard University law graduate, served as a trustee for Ali from November 1976 until February 1977. During that time he supposedly bought for his client a $1.8 million office building in the Springfield area and 24 condominiums in Herndon that had gone into foreclosure the papers said.
Ali alleged in the court proceedings against Anthony that he and the lawyer were engaged in various joint ventures including the retailing of chicken under the name of "Champ Chicken," Mack trucks and prayer rugs in Middle Eastern countries.