Convicted felon and anti-Trump attorney Michael Avenatti reportedly walked free Friday in New York City, kicking off a recently approved release from jail.
According to Fox News, a federal judge granted Avenatti a temporary 90-day release over legally argued health concerns stemming from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which has strongly impacted the nation’s houses of correction.
Court documents indicate that the lawyer has been at increased risk of contracting COVID-19 since he fell ill with pneumonia roughly six months ago. The coronavirus has infected nearly 2.8 million people globally and killed more than 195,000, according to Johns Hopkins.
Avenatti officially left the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan — the former dwelling place of deceased sex offender and money man Jeffrey Epstein — at 11 a.m. Eastern, his lawyer Dean Steward told Fox.
The lawyer was reportedly quarantined within the facility for the standard 14 days prior to his release.
“We’re really gratified that the judge took the action that he did,” Steward said. “He recognized the seriousness of the situation.”
Avenatti, known for representing pornographic film star Stormy Daniels in her high-profile nondisclosure lawsuit against President Donald Trump, has been a face of the so-called left-wing “resistance” in recent years.
His potential political aspirations were put on hold, however, when the attorney was disgraced by allegations of fraud throughout his legal career.
Arrested in January at a California courthouse amid an uphill battle to prevent the state bar association from placing his legal practice on hold, Avenatti was eventually convicted on three counts of extortion, wire fraud and transmission of interstate communications with intent to extort, according to ABC News.
The attorney had been caught up in an attempt to blackmail multibillion-dollar athletic brand Nike, CNBC reported.
He had reportedly also faced legal trouble for swindling Daniels out of $300,000 from her book deal, embezzling clients’ money to pay personal debts and even allegedly committing domestic violence against a romantic interest in 2018.
Avenatti is far from the first convicted criminal to be released from incarceration as a result of the ongoing pandemic.
According to NBC News, jails across the country have begun to take up a policy of release for prisoners incarcerated on nonviolent charges or at increased risk of contracting the virus due to pre-existing conditions or age.
The state of California, for its part, has announced intentions to release so many as 3,500 offenders in the coming weeks in order to slow the spread of the virus in more crowded prisons, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Largely inactive communities and prisoner releases have, however, been called into question in recent weeks by law enforcement professionals in certain jurisdictions.
Houston-area police reported this week in an open letter to the community that crimes such as aggravated assault and burglary have risen roughly 20 percent in correlation with some of these recent public health measures.
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