Disgraced attorney Michael Avenatti has just been hit, yet again, with federal felony criminal charges.
This time, Avenatti has been indicted in the Southern District of New York for allegedly defrauding one of his clients — presumed to be former porn star actress Stormy Daniels, who Avenatti represented in his rise to notoriety, according to The Hill.
The indictment doesn’t specifically name Daniels as the aggrieved client, but the details make it clear that the case involves her and an advance payment from a publisher with whom she had signed a book deal to tell her story of an alleged affair with then-businessman Donald Trump.
Avenatti stands accused of committing wire fraud and aggravated identity theft in the alleged diversion of about $300,000 due to Daniels that he instead utilized for his own purposes, such as making payroll for his own employees, making a payment on an exotic Ferrari sports car, giving gifts to friends and an assortment of other personal expenses.
The indictment alleged that Avenatti had initially attempted to convince an agent to have the publisher wire the advance payment on the book deal directly to him.
When the agent and publisher balked, however, Avenatti allegedly forged Daniels’ signature on a letter which instructed the publisher to do as Avenatti had requested, which the publisher subsequently did under the assumption that Daniels had authorized the transaction.
But it was done without the knowledge or authorization of Daniels, who is alleged to have repeatedly asked Avenatti about the status of the advance payment, only to be told that the publisher had been withholding payment.
The indictment stated that Avenatti had “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.”
Daniels at one point is alleged to have threatened to fire the book deal agent and send a publicized certified letter to the publisher demanding payment, but Avenatti reportedly convinced her to refrain from doing so … as that would have exposed his ruse.
Nevertheless, Daniels ultimately learned what had transpired later when she proceeded to reach out and contact the publisher herself in search of the missing funds.
It is worth noting that Daniels had severed her ties with Avenatti in February — shortly after he had lost her case against the president — and hired another attorney, Clark Brewster, whose initial task was to review everything Avenatti had done in relation to Daniels as his client.
That review was said to have been submitted to the Southern District of New York and played a role in these new charges.
Brewster informed the media that Daniels had fully cooperated with the FBI and prosecutors in the case, even testifying before a grand jury on the matter.
“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. And all the while, when (Avenatti) was making public exhibitions of that, seemingly, he was engaged in deceit and dishonesty and embezzlement,” Brewster said.
Avenatti has professed his innocence and claimed that he will be “fully exonerated” once all of the facts in the case are revealed — similar to his statement issued following earlier criminal indictments in other cases, such as an alleged effort to blackmail and extort Nike.
This is only the latest attack on the integrity of this lawyer — but recall that it was only a year ago when much of the establishment media held Avenatti up as a veritable savior of the nation because of his outspoken opposition to President Trump. He was even heralded as a potential top-tier 2020 Democratic presidential candidate at one time.
That’s all come crashing down as he is apparently solely focused on enriching himself and his reputation while soaking up the liberal media limelight, at the expense of the very clients he claimed to represent.
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