In 2018, attorney Michael Avenatti made headlines by helping porn star Stormy Daniels sue President Donald Trump over a hush-money agreement she signed just before the 2016 presidential election. However, he is now making headlines for allegedly defrauding clients and failing to pay taxes.
According to a 36-count indictment filed by federal prosecutors in California on April 11, the 48-year-old lawyer defrauded clients, including a mentally ill paraplegic individual, in order to buy a $5 million private jet and fund a “lavish lifestyle.” He also allegedly failed to pay millions in U.S. taxes on the stolen income. As a result, he has been charged with wire fraud, perjury and tax evasion. If convicted on all charges, he could be sentenced to 333 years in prison.
On April 29, Avenatti took to Twitter to say that he intended to plead innocent to the charges, which he claimed are “one-sided.” He also claimed to be one of the Trump family’s “biggest enemies.” In March, federal prosecutors in New York charged him with extortion in a separate case. According to that indictment, he tried to shake down Nike for $20 million by claiming he had evidence to expose a bribing scheme involving amateur basketball players. Meanwhile, federal prosecutors in Los Angeles claim that he tried to embezzle money from clients to pay personal and business debts.
Individuals charged with tax or embezzlement-related crimes might help their case by contacting Orlando, Florida, white-collar crimes defense lawyers for advice. A lawyer may be able to carefully scrutinize the evidence and work to poke holes in the prosecution’s case, which might lead to the charges being reduced or dismissed.
Source: CNBC, “Celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti says he will plead not guilty to federal fraud charges in California,” Kevin Breuninger, April 29, 2019