Michael Avenatti, the attorney who rocketed to fame as an antagonist of former President Donald Trump, pleaded guilty to multiple fraud charges on Thursday.
Avenatti already had been convicted of embezzling funds from porn star Stormy Daniels — whose allegations against Trump were the fodder Avenatti used to make a name for himself — and of trying to extort as much as $25 million from Nike, according to The Orange County Register.
He is serving a five-year sentence in a federal prison in California.
Avenatti pleaded guilty Thursday to four counts of wire fraud and one count of tax fraud. The allegations covered misappropriation of funds from multiple clients.
The plea, which came during a court hearing in Santa Ana, means Avenatti could face as many as 83 years in prison, according to The Associated Press.
Sentencing in the case tentatively has been scheduled for Sept. 19.
BREAKING: Michael Avenatti, the twice-convicted lawyer known for taking on then-U.S. President Donald Trump, on Thursday pleaded guilty to five additional criminal charges, including defrauding clients and obstructing the Internal Revenue Service.
— Newsmax (@newsmax) June 16, 2022
Avenatti’s advisory attorney, Dean Steward, said the guilty plea was a strategic move so that “the energy everyone would put into a trial will be put into sentencing.”
Avenatti, who has been disbarred in California, won the right to represent himself, with Steward as an advisory attorney.
Avenatti, 51, wrote in a court document that he tried to reach a plea deal with prosecutors.
“Despite repeated efforts over the last year by Mr. Avenatti and his counsel, including substantial efforts made in the last 30 days, defendant has been unable to reach a plea agreement with the government,” he wrote, according to NBC News.
“Mr. Avenatti wishes to plea in order to be accountable; accept responsibility; avoid his former clients being further burdened; save the court and the government significant resources; and save his family further embarrassment.”
Prosecutors said Avenatti used money from cases to fund his lifestyle instead of paying his clients what they were entitled to receive.
Among those cases was one in which prosecutors said Avenatti collected $4 million from Los Angeles County in the case of a man injured in custody, denied any settlement was ever received, and paid the man what he termed advances on a settlement that ranged from $1,000 to $1,900.
In another case, prosecutors said Avenatti collected $2.75 million in a settlement and used most of the money to buy a private plane.
The cases took place between 2015 and 2019, according to prosecutors.
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