Avenatti released from jail for 90 days due to coronavirus pandemic
Celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti was temporarily released from jail on Friday due to concerns he could get the coronavirus while incarcerated, his attorney told CNN.
Avenatti, the lawyer who represented adult-film actress Stormy Daniels in litigation against President Trump, was granted a temporary release two weeks ago by U.S. District Judge James Selna, a George W. Bush appointee.
On Friday, he completed the 14-day quarantine required by the Federal Bureau of Prisons before he is allowed to spend 90 days of his sentence at his home in California.
His release comes as several high-profile figures seek to be released into home arrest during the pandemic, as prisons become hotbeds for the spread of the virus.
A New York federal judge last week ruled that Michael Cohen, the president’s former personal attorney, could serve the rest of his sentence from home. Actor Bill Cosby, who was convicted of sex crimes in 2018, was not granted release.
“We’re really gratified that the judge took the action that he did. He recognized the seriousness of the situation. Unfortunately, there are a lot courts across the country that have not. We’re fortunate,” Dean Steward, one of Avenatti’s attorneys, told CNN.
In his April 11 ruling, Selna said Avenatti would not have access to the internet or be allowed to leave his home except for medical emergencies. He also will not be able to conduct transactions of more than $500.
Avenatti was convicted in February of allegedly attempting to extort up to $25 million from the athletic apparel giant Nike. He is still pending additional criminal trials in Manhattan, where Avenatti is charged with allegedly defrauding Daniels and other clients. He is also charged with committing tax fraud.
Prosecutors argued he poses an “economic danger,” but one of lawyers, Scott Srebnick, asserted that “there was no allegation that Mr. Avenatti was a risk of flight or that he posted a physical danger to anyone or to himself.”
Before his conviction, he made regular television appearances criticizing the president, particularly as it related to his litigation with Daniels, and was even floated as a potential presidential candidate.