Michael Avenatti Gets 14 More Years

Stormy Daniels' former lawyer sentenced in last of 3 major cases against him
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 6, 2022 12:13 AM CST
Michael Avenatti Gets 14 More Years
Michael Avenatti speaks to members of the media after leaving federal court on Feb. 4, 2022, in New York.   (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

Lawyer Michael Avenatti, who rose to fame representing porn star Stormy Daniels against former President Trump, was sentenced in California on Monday to 14 years in prison for cheating clients out of millions of dollars, the AP reports. Avenatti was also fined $10 million by US District Judge James V. Selna. The judge said Avenatti’s sentence in Southern California will be served after he finishes a five-year term for separate convictions in New York. This was the last of three major federal criminal cases to wrap up against the 51-year-old Californian. Avenatti is currently serving prison time for stealing book proceeds from Daniels—who sued to break a confidentiality agreement with Trump to stay mum about an affair she said they had—and for trying to extort Nike if the shoemaker didn’t pay him up to $25 million.

Avenatti pleaded guilty earlier this year to four counts of wire fraud and a tax-related charge despite not reaching a plea deal with federal prosecutors, saying he wanted to be accountable and spare his family further embarrassment. He was accused of negotiating and collecting settlement payments on behalf of his clients and funneling the money to accounts he controlled, and spending it on his own lavish lifestyle. His voice breaking, Avenatti apologized to the clients he bilked, including two who told the court about how losing the money and their trust in someone they thought had their back upended their lives. “I am deeply remorseful and contrite,” Avenatti said. “There is no doubt that all of them deserve much better, and I hope that someday they will accept my apologies and find it in their heart to forgive me.”

Authorities in California said Avenatti carried out what amounted to a “sophisticated Ponzi scheme” by collecting settlement payments on behalf of vulnerable clients and using the money to fund his exorbitant lifestyle. In one instance, prosecutors said Avenatti collected a $2.75 million settlement payment for a client and used much of the money to buy a private airplane. In another, he collected a $4 million settlement from Los Angeles County for a man who suffered in-custody injuries and was left paraplegic after a suicide attempt, but never told him the money was received. Instead, authorities said Avenatti used the funds to finance his coffee business and pay personal expenses, and gave the man smaller amounts ranging from $1,000 to $1,900 that he called advances on the broader settlement. In addition to the prison sentence, Avenatti was ordered to pay more than $10 million in restitution to his clients and the IRS. (More Michael Avenatti stories.)

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