Prosecutors: Michael Avenatti May Have Violated Terms of Release


Celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti violated the terms of his temporary release from jail during the coronavirus pandemic by using a computer, federal prosecutors allege.

In a complaint obtained by CNN, a network Avenatti regularly appeared on before he was tried and convicted of attempting to extort Nike for millions of dollars, authorities say the celebrity lawyer used a computer to draft court documents to defend himself.

Avenatti’s release strictly prohibits him from using a computer with internet access.

According to federal prosecutors, the disgraced lawyer used the computer of his friend Jay Manheimer, who was named Avenatti’s third-party custodian upon his release from a New York federal jail, and those documents contain a digital footprint leading back to Avenatti.

“[T]he government believes that defendant has likely violated the conditions of his temporary release by using his third-party custodian Jay Manheimer’s internet-accessible computer to draft his last five filings in this case. At a minimum, defendant and his counsel have not been candid with this Court,” a 33-page court filing read.

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The court filing states that on five occasions, documents crafted in Avenatti’s case were allegedly drafted by him.

“On May 27, 2020, defendant, through counsel Mr. Steward, filed a 72-page Status Report, which included as exhibits four news articles pulled from the internet,” the document read.

“The metadata for the Adobe PDF file that was submitted through the Court’s CM/ECF system (CR 164) shows that the ‘Author’ of the document was defendant’s third-party custodian, ‘JAY MANHEIMER,’ and that the document was created using Microsoft Word and a Mac computer,” the filing added.

Avenatti’s lawyer, Dean Steward, described the government’s evaluation of the metadata as “inaccurate,” according to CNN, and said the data does not point to Avenatti as the author of the documents.

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“There is also nothing prohibiting Mr. Manheimer from printing to PDF the final agreed-upon filing,” Steward wrote in a court filing.

Avenatti was released from the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York for 90 days in April, NBC News reported.

The release came amid fears that the coronavirus might spread to inmate populations.

The former attorney for Stormy Daniels would have to report back to jail in July, but would remain under house arrest with strict conditions.

Avenatti was convicted in February of attempting to extort up to $25 million from Nike and was reported to be in millions of dollars in debt at the time.

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The attorney is currently awaiting sentencing for the extortion conviction.

Avenatti is also accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from Daniels, who catapulted her lawyer to fame when he represented her after she claimed she had previously had a sexual encounter with President Donald Trump, which Trump has denied.

Avenatti was previously touted as a potential 2020 Democrat presidential candidate by CNN’s Brian Stelter, as the Washington Examiner reported.

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Johnathan Jones has worked as a reporter, an editor, and producer in radio, television and digital media.
Johnathan "Kipp" Jones has worked as an editor and producer in radio and television. He is a proud husband and father.