Disgraced lawyer and former CNN/MSNBC luminary Michael Avenatti has a busy docket today. He will be arraigned twice in Manhattan federal court. Avenatti is most notable for representing stripper Stormy Daniels who claimed to have an affair with Donald Trump before he was he was elected president. He is also known for his frequent appearance on the #resistance cable networks offering up all kinds of neverTrump, authoritative prognostications.
Avenatti, 49, is scheduled to be arraigned on charges that he stole nearly $300,000 from adult film actress Stormy Daniels, the client who rocketed him to national prominence. Approximately three-and-a-half hours later, Avenatti is scheduled to be arraigned on charges that he tried to extort up to $25 million from athletic apparel giant Nike by threatening to expose claims that the shoemaker paid off high school basketball players to steer them to Nike-sponsored colleges.
In the Nike case, Avenatti is charged with one count of extortion, one count of sending interstate communications with intent to extort and two counts of conspiracy. In the Stormy Daniels case, he is charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. If convicted on all counts, Avenatti could face a total of 69 years in prison.
Avenatti has denied any wrong doing.
In the case of Nike, media darling Avenatti threatened to hold a press conference the day before Nike’s earnings call to announce allegations of misconduct if the company did not agree to pay him millions of dollars. He told Nike’s lawyers he would “take ten billion dollars off your client’s market cap… I’m not f—ing around.”
Avenatti will also be arraigned for allegedly ripping of his client Stormy Daniels, claiming he stole a $297,500 advance from her paid out by her book publisher.
Court documents said Avenatti gave Daniels’ literary agent a doctored letter with her signature directing the agent to divert the money to an account controlled by Avenatti. The lawyer then allegedly spent the money “on airfare, hotels, car services, restaurants and meal delivery, online retailers, payroll for his law firm and another business he owned, and insurance.”
The indictment said that after Daniels asked Avenatti why she had not received the first payment, Avenatti falsely claimed he was still trying to extract the money from the publisher. Weeks later, the lawyer allegedly “used funds recently received from another source” to pay Daniels the amount she was owed — $148,750.
In addition, prosecutors in Southern California have accused Avenatti of even more malfeasance.
Avenatti also obtained $4.1 million in loans from a Mississippi bank by using fraudulent tax returns stating he made more than $14 million between 2011 and 2013 and had paid more than $1 million in estimated taxes to the IRS in 2012 and 2013. In fact, investigators said, Avenatti owed the IRS $850,438 plus interest and penalties for the years 2009 and 2010, paid no personal income taxes for 2011, 2012 and 2013 and paid no estimated taxes in 2012 and 2013.
If he is convicted in California, he faces up to 335 years in jail. Sad!
(Photo credit should read JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images)