The U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of NY announced a new indictment of Michael Avenatti for allegations of fraud and identity theft against his former client Stormy Daniels in the adult film star's legal battle against President Donald Trump.
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These are the latest charges filed against the lawyer, who previously faced other charges in California and NY federal courts, according to The Hill.
After pocketing almost $300,000 of Daniels's money over the course of several installments, Avenatti merrily set about using it to cover his dry-cleaning bills, make monthly payments on a leased Ferrari, and pay employees of his law firm and of a Tully's coffee franchise he owns.
The charges pile on top of previous allegations of legal misconduct by Avenatti, who represented Daniels when she sued to be released from a nondisclosure agreement involving an alleged tryst with Trump. The scandalous lawyer denies charges and expects to be totally exonerated.
Avenatti, of course, took to social media to tell his side of the story, stating that "no monies relating to Ms. Daniels were ever misappropriated or mishandled". "She received millions of dollars worth of legal services and we spent huge sums in expenses".
When Daniels asked why she had not received a $148,750 installment payment, Avenatti lied by telling her he had yet to receive it from the publisher, according to court papers.
The indictment alleges that Avenatti ripped Daniels off to the tune of $300,000 by having her publisher send book payments to fraudulent bank accounts he set up without her knowledge.
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In March Daniels said she had fired Avenatti a month earlier after "discovering that he had dealt with me extremely dishonestly".
Adult-film star Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, speaks to media along with lawyer Michael Avenatti outside federal courthouse in Manhattan a year ago. "He has repeatedly ignored those requests". CNN has reached out to Daniels for comment on the charges against her former attorney.
The charges were announced by U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman in Manhattan. "As alleged, he used his position of trust to steal an advance on the client's book deal".
"Far from zealously representing his client, Avenatti, as alleged, instead engaged in outright deception and theft, victimizing rather than advocating for his client", Berman stated. He would use the money for himself and lie to clients about whether the settlements were being paid or delayed, the indictment stated. "I look forward to a jury hearing the evidence", he wrote.
"At no time was any money misappropriated or mishandled", he added. "I will be fully exonerated once the relevant emails, contracts, text messages, and documents are presented", he said.
I was entitled to any monies retained per my agreement with the client.
When Avenatti was first charged with defrauding other clients and extorting Nike in March, Daniels said she was "saddened but not shocked". But it is being run by the same team of federal officials who slapped Avenatti with two counts of extortion for his alleged role in what prosecutors called "an old-fashioned shakedown" of Nike.
Avenatti responded that he was "working them and threatening litigation", prosecutors said, but he did not tell Daniels he had already received the money. Geragos was not charged with a crime. She also said he had filed a defamation lawsuit against Trump, on her behalf, against her wishes. A federal judge in California later threw out the suit and ordered Daniels to reimburse Trump for legal fees.