Avenatti, Already Jailed, Gets Even More Prison Time

Disgraced lawyer receives 2.5 years for cheating Stormy Daniels
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 2, 2022 1:58 PM CDT
Avenatti, Already Jailed, Gets Even More Prison Time
In this 2018 file photo, Stormy Daniels and attorney Michael Avenatti turn from the microphones after speaking as they leave federal court in New York.   (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

Michael Avenatti was sentenced Thursday to four years in prison for cheating client Stormy Daniels of hundreds of thousands of dollars in book proceeds. The California lawyer, currently incarcerated, learned his fate in Manhattan federal court, where Judge Jesse M. Furman said the sentence will mean that Avenatti will spend another 2 1/2 years in prison on top of the 2 1/2 years he is already serving after another fraud conviction. The judge said Avenatti's crime against Daniels was made “out of desperation” when his law firm was struggling, per the AP. He called Avenatti's behavior “craven and egregious" and blamed it on “blind ambition.”

Prior to sentencing being announced, Avenatti, wearing his prison uniform, choked up several times as he delivered a lengthy statement, saying he had “disappointed scores of people and failed in a cataclysmic way.” At trial earlier this year, Avenatti represented himself, cross-examining his former client for hours about their experiences in early 2018, when she signed a book deal that provided an $800,000 payout. Prosecutors said he illegally pocketed about $300,000 of her advance on Full Disclosure, published in fall 2018. The book's publication came at a time when Avenatti's law practice was failing financially even as he appeared regularly on cable television news channels.

In the appearances, he attacked then-President Trump as he represented Daniels in lawsuits meant to free her from a $130,000 hush payment she received shortly before the 2016 presidential election to remain silent about a tryst she said she had with Trump a decade earlier. Trump denied it. Daniels, an adult-film star, was not in court on Thursday. A lawyer spoke on her behalf, saying it was “truly shocking” that Avenatti tried to portray himself as a champion of his clients during his statement. He’s already serving a 2 1/2-year sentence for trying to extort Nike. Avenatti was convicted of threatening to ruin the shoemaker’s reputation if it did not pay him up to $25 million.

(More Michael Avenatti stories.)

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