Michael Avenatti charged with 36 counts: Embezzlement, fraud, cheating on taxes

Celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti arrives for his first hearing in Santa Ana federal court on bank and wire fraud charges

Celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti arrives for his first hearing in Santa Ana federal court on bank and wire fraud charges

Attorney Michael Avenatti has been charged with stealing millions of dollars from five clients in a 36-count indictment that also accuses him of perjury, failure to pay income taxes and bank fraud.

U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna said during a press conference on April 11 that the alleged crimes-which fall under wire fraud, tax fraud, bank fraud, and bankruptcy fraud-were all linked to one another because "money generated from one set of crimes was used to further other crimes, typically in the form of payments created to string along victims so as to prevent Mr. Avenatti's financial house of cards from collapsing".

Thursday's indictment from a grand jury comes two weeks after federal prosecutors in Manhattan and Los Angeles charged Avenatti, who became a household name during his representation of adult-film actress Stephanie Clifford, known professionally as Stormy Daniels, almost simultaneously in two criminal cases, unsealing complaints that alleged he attempted to extort more than $20 million from sportswear company Nike and that he committed wire and bank fraud.

Hanna said the Avenatti case "has nothing to do with anything political or with anything else".

Avenatti faces 19 tax-related charges.

Avenatti became a prominent critic of Trump and a frequent cable TV guest while representing Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford. At one point, Avenatti even considered challenging Trump in 2020.

Avenatti and his various businesses also owed millions in back taxes, and his Newport Beach law firm was reaching bankruptcy, the Times reported. At that time, the U.S. Department of Justice and the IRS will reportedly plan to announce the "filing of a 36-count indictment".

Suspected poacher killed by elephant and eaten by lions in South Africa
Most illegal activity occurs in Kruger National Park, a protected habitat on South Africa's north-eastern border with Mozambique. The man's family told authorities they were informed of his death by his fellow alleged poachers, authorities said.

Under State Bar of California rules of professional conduct, a lawyer must promptly notify a client of the receipt of any funds they are entrusted to hold for the client and turn over the money at the client's request.

The 61-page indictment (pdf) was filed late on April 10 and detailed how Avenatti failed to meet his tax obligations, stole from his client, and used the money to support his racing team, coffee shops, and a private jet.

The indictment alleges that Avenatti lied to a court overseeing the bankruptcy of Eagan Avenatti. Johnson was referred to as "Client 1" in the indictment, but was named at a recent court hearing involving the money Avenatti was ordered to pay his former partner. Avenatti continued to lie to his client through last month, according to the indictment.

Avenatti rose to fame representing Daniels, whose alleged affair in 2006 with President Donald Trump led in part to criminal charges against Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen.

Avenatti attacked the allegation in a social media post Thursday.

"Money generated from one set of crimes appears in other sets - typically in the form of payments to lull victims and to prevent Mr. Avenatti's financial house of cards from collapsing", Hanna said in a statement. He's also defending himself on Twitter.

Recommended News

We are pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news.
Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper.
Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.