SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — Michael Avenatti is insistent that “justice will be done” after facing fraud charges Monday in federal court in California, a week after the attorney famous for representing porn actress Stormy Daniels in legal battles against President Donald Trump was arrested in New York.
After a brief hearing in the Orange County city of Santa Ana, Avenatti said he has long represented “Davids versus Goliaths” in the same justice system in which he now is charged with bank and wire fraud.
“I am highly confident that when the process plays out, that justice will be done,” he told a group of reporters outside the courthouse without taking questions.
Avenatti, 48, is charged in Southern California with filing bogus tax returns to fraudulently obtain $4 million in loans from a Mississippi bank and pocketing $1.6 million that belonged to a client.
He has long faced allegations from a former client and a former partner that he was hiding money to avoid paying what he owed them.
Now, federal authorities have added their voices to that chorus, with the specter of a long prison sentence that could be the downfall of a man who once considered challenging Trump in his re-election bid.
He was arrested last week in New York, where he was charged in a separate case with trying to extort millions of dollars from Nike. He was released on $300,000 bail and has said he expects to be exonerated.
On Monday, Avenatti waived his right to a preliminary hearing on the charges in California and was scheduled to be arraigned April 29. His lawyer said Avenatti may seek a waiver so his attorneys can enter a not-guilty plea on his behalf.
In New York, prosecutors allege that Avenatti tried to shake down Nike for millions of dollars so he wouldn’t reveal allegations the apparel company paid off high school basketball players. He has denied the charge to reporters and began tweeting what he called evidence of the scandal the day after he was arrested.
Avenatti is known for his outspoken challenge of Trump and his lavish lifestyle. He represented Daniels in her claim that Trump paid her to keep quiet about their alleged affair ahead of the 2016 election.
Federal prosecutors said he rented a $100,000-a-month home in upscale Newport Beach for about a year, a claim that Avenatti called “completely false” in a Twitter post.
He also claimed loans to the Mississippi bank were repaid “years ago IN FULL.”
A former partner of Avenatti’s won a $10 million judgment against the law firm where they worked and is still seeking to collect it.
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