Court Battles

Avenatti indicted for allegedly defrauding Stormy Daniels

Michael Avenatti was hit with two separate indictments on Wednesday in New York for his alleged extortion of Nike and for allegedly defrauding his former client, adult-film star Stormy Daniels.

These are the latest charges filed against the lawyer, who has previously faced other charges in federal courts in New York and California.

{mosads}Avenatti has tweeted in recent hours that another indictment was forthcoming.

Though the court documents do not name Daniels directly, the case details make it clear that she is the client in question. Avenatti said that at least one charge is related to Daniels, the adult film star he formerly represented in her legal battles against President Trump.

“No monies relating to Ms. Daniels were ever misappropriated or mishandled. She received millions of dollars worth of legal services and we spent huge sums in expenses. She directly paid only $100.00 for all that she received,” Avenatti tweeted from his account, now set to private, earlier Wednesday.

“I look forward to a jury hearing the evidence.”

The celebrity attorney also reasserted his innocence in a tweet sent just moments after the new indictments were unsealed.

“I will be fully exonerated once the relevant emails, contracts, text messages, and documents are presented,” Avenatti wrote.

Daniels’s attorney, Clark Brewster, told The Hill that he had written an overview of Avenatti’s alleged conduct and presented it to the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York, who then took up the case. Avenatti and Daniels terminated their professional relationship in February.

Brewster said Daniels was fully cooperative with the FBI and federal prosecutors throughout the investigation, and even testified before the grand jury that voted to indict her former lawyer.

“One of the things that makes you tick as a trial lawyer is you want to champion someone’s cause, and be there for them and be that voice,” Brewster said. “And all the while, when he was making public exhibitions of that, seemingly, he was engaged in deceit and dishonesty and embezzlement.”

“I can’t tell you how truly devastated [Daniels] was when the reality of what he had done was fully comprehended,” he added.

Avenatti has been charged with wire fraud and aggravated identity theft in the case.

In the indictment apparently in relation to Daniels, federal prosecutors allege that Avenatti took money intended for a client in a book deal and instead used it “for his own purposes, including, among other things, to pay employees of his law firm and a coffee business he owned.”

The funds were also allegedly used “to make payments to individuals with whom Avenatti had personal relationships, to make a luxury car payment, and to pay for hotels, airfare, meals, car services, and dry cleaning.”

When the then-client asked Avenatti about when her advance for the book deal was arriving, Avenatti allegedly “repeatedly lied … including by stating that he was working on getting the fees from [their] publisher, when, in truth and in fact, Avenatti had already received the fees and spent them on his own personal and professional expenses.”

The indictment claims that Avenatti stole about $300,000 from the individual, and hasn’t paid back half of that money.

The document also claims that Avenatti told the client that he wouldn’t accept any form of payment for work he did in relation to the book deal, after signing a contract that gave him the authority to collect payments for that work.

{mossecondads}Avenatti allegedly told the agent involved in the book deal, without his client’s knowledge, that the agent should send a payment for the book to a bank account under his control.

After the agent told Avenatti that the payment couldn’t be sent to that account, Avenatti sent a letter with a forged signature stating that the payment should be sent to the lawyer’s bank account.

His client “never authorized nor signed the False Wire Instructions and, in fact, was not even aware of the False Wire Instructions,” the document states.

Avenatti, after having the advance payment for the book transferred to his account, sent it again to another account before transferring it to his client’s account.

The lawyer then told the book publisher, without the client’s knowledge, that they should send the third payment for the book early, which the publisher agreed to do.

That money was allegedly again sent to an account under Avenatti’s control, which he used, for other things, to make payroll for his law firm, make payments to individuals with whom he had personal relationships, and “make a monthly lease payment of approximately $3,900 for a Ferrari automobile,” according to the document.

The former client allegedly and repeatedly asked Avenatti about the payment from October 2018 through February 2019, to which the document says he “fraudulently stated … that Publisher-1 was withholding payment.”

At one point, the client purportedly told Avenatti that she was planning on firing her agent and sending a certified letter to her publisher demanding payment, adding “I may post it online for fun.”

Avenatti then convinced her to not fire the agent because he might need the agent’s help in a lawsuit to get the payment from the publisher.

The client later got in touch with the publisher herself and discovered that the payment had already been sent.

A second indictment unsealed Tuesday related to an alleged extortion scheme against Nike, claiming that Avenatti threatened “to cause substantial economic and reputational harm to Nike if did not accede to Avenatti” and another co-conspirator’s demands.

The pair allegedly threatened to hold a press conference on the eve of Nike’s quarterly earnings call to unveil allegations of misconduct by Nike staffers unless the company made a $1.5 million to Avenatti’s client.

Avenatti is already facing federal charges in relation to the alleged Nike scheme. He has also denied these latest charges and has maintained his innocence in the other Nike case.

Just months ago, Avenatti had floated the possibility of running for the Democratic nomination in the 2020 presidential race. But with the end of his relationship with Daniels, and the charges in multiple federal courts, Avenatti has now suffered a series of blows in recent months.

The lawyer shot up to national prominence with his representation of Daniels in her lawsuit against Trump, with whom she has alleged an affair. Trump has denied the allegations.

Daniels had sued Trump last year, claiming that a nondisclosure agreement she signed in exchange for a $130,000 payment from former Trump attorney Michael Cohen was void.

That payment to Daniels, as well as payments made by Cohen to other women, have been at the center of a federal campaign finance violation.

Cohen pleaded guilty last year to the campaign finance violation in relation to the hush-money payments and reported to federal prison earlier this month to serve his three-year sentence.

Trump initially denied any knowledge of the payments, but his attorney Rudy Giuliani revealed last year that Trump had reimbursed Cohen for the payment to Daniels.

Updated at 7:21 p.m.

Tags Donald Trump Indictment Michael Cohen Rudy Giuliani

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