Michael Avenatti Indicted For Allegedly Stealing Paraplegic Client's Settlement Money
Apr 12, 2019, 01:57
High-profile attorney Michael Avenatti is facing a raft of new charges after a federal grand jury indicted him on 36 counts of stealing millions of dollars from clients, bank fraud, tax evasion, and perjury in bankruptcy proceedings.
A statement from prosecutors to news outlets says details of the case will be released Thursday morning by U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna and the Internal Revenue Service in Los Angeles.
Avenatti tweeted Thursday that he intends to fight all of the charges and says he looks forward to the truth being known, as opposed to what he characterizes as a "one-sided version".
Avenatti, 48, was arrested March 25 in NY on the Nike charge and federal prosecutors at the time announced he also faced single counts of wire and bank fraud in Southern California, where he lives and practices law.
The attorney best known for representing adult film star Stormy Daniels in her legal battle with U.S. President Donald Trump said Thursday that he will plead not guilty.
The indictment said Avenatti stole millions of dollars from five clients through a group of shell companies and bank accounts to make it more hard to track.
That same day in Los Angeles, prosecutors claimed that Avenatti misused a client settlements to fund his coffee business, and also used the money to pay personal expenses.
The most glaring example of deception and fraud was described in the indictment as scheming Avenatti allegedly did to deprive clients of money they were due from court settlements, legal negotiations or sales of stock and actions he took to cover his tracks.
Prosecutors also accuse Avenatti of filing fraudulent applications to a bank in MS, to obtain $4.1 million in loans and making false statements when his firm was facing bankruptcy proceedings.
"Avenatti concealed the receipt of the settlement from Client 1 and instead gave him periodic "advances" of no more than $1,900 and paid the rent for his assisted living facility", the statement said.
Federal agents confirmed with Fox News that they had seized a Honda HA-420 twin-engine jet-worth $4.5 million-on April 10 after a federal judge issued a warrant.
The victims in the case include a mentally ill paraplegic who won a $4 million settlement against Los Angeles County.
A vocal critic of President Donald Trump whose presence on cable television past year made him a national figure, Avenatti now finds himself buried in legal travails on both coasts.
Avenatti allegedly tried to hide the scheme by derailing the client's attempt to buy a house and lying to the Social Security Administration about the settlement, resulting in the client losing his Social Security benefits in February, according to the indictment. But when Johnson was in escrow to purchase the property, Avenatti falsely said he had not received the settlement funds, the indictment said.
In all, Avenatti has been charged with 10 counts of wire fraud, 19 tax-related offenses, two counts of bank fraud, and four counts of bankruptcy fraud, while he remains free on the $300,000 bond he posted last month.
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