Michael Avenatti Is Charged With Stealing Nearly $300,000 From Stormy Daniels

Federal prosecutors on Wednesday charged the celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti with misappropriating hundreds of thousands of dollars belonging to the pornographic film actress Stormy Daniels, his former client.

The indictment, announced by the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan, adds to the legal troubles of Mr. Avenatti, who stands accused of more than three dozen crimes. He denied all of the charges on Wednesday and said he would continue to fight them.

According to prosecutors, Mr. Avenatti took more than $295,000 from Ms. Daniels. After helping her secure a book contract, they said, he sent “a fraudulent and unauthorized letter” bearing Ms. Daniels’s signature to her literary agent, instructing the agent to wire a portion of the book advance to a client trust account that Mr. Avenatti controlled.

Ms. Daniels, the indictment said, “had not signed or authorized the letter, and did not even know of its existence.” Mr. Avenatti is accused of putting the money toward his own personal expenses, including plane tickets, hotel stays, meal delivery, dry cleaning and a luxury car lease.

Mr. Avenatti began representing Ms. Daniels in early 2018, when he filed lawsuits against President Trump and Michael D. Cohen, the president’s former personal lawyer and fixer. Mr. Avenatti sought to release Ms. Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, from a hush agreement she signed leading up to the 2016 presidential election. As part of that agreement, she accepted $130,000 and agreed to keep quiet about a sexual relationship she said she had had with Mr. Trump in 2006.

Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty last year to campaign finance crimes related to the payment. This month, he began serving a three-year prison sentence.

According to a statement by Ms. Daniels in March, she stopped working with Mr. Avenatti early this year. She could not be immediately reached for comment on Wednesday.

“I intend on fighting these bogus/legally baseless allegations, and will plead not guilty to ALL CHARGES,” Mr. Avenatti wrote on Twitter, just before prosecutors announced the latest counts. “I look forward to the trial where I can begin to clear my name.”

Mr. Avenatti was arrested in New York in March on extortion charges, accused of seeking millions from Nike in exchange for what he described as evidence of misconduct by company employees in the recruitment of college basketball players.

In a separate indictment filed in California this spring, Mr. Avenatti was accused of stealing millions of dollars from five other clients, and of lying repeatedly about his business and income to an agent of the Internal Revenue Service, creditors, a bankruptcy court and a bankruptcy trustee.

Mr. Avenatti, who spent much of 2018 crusading against Mr. Trump on cable news shows and teasing a presidential run of his own, has called the case against him politically motivated.

But federal prosecutors in California said that their indictment of Mr. Avenatti had grown out of a criminal investigation initiated in September 2016, months before the election that would catapult both him and his future client, Ms. Daniels, into the political arena.

If convicted on all charges, Mr. Avenatti could face more than 300 years in prison.

Source

more recommended stories

  • Jay Inslee Ends Campaign for President

    Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington, who.

  • Bernie Sanders Sets a Goal: Double Union Membership in 4 Years

    ALTOONA, Iowa — Senator Bernie Sanders.

  • American Military Drone Shot Down Over Yemen

    WASHINGTON — An American military drone.

  • In Denmark, Bewilderment and Anger Over Trump’s Canceled Visit

    ODENSE, Denmark — The astonishment in.

  • Putting a Positive Spin on Oil Exploration in the Arctic Refuge

    When the Trump administration first pushed.

  • On Politics: Trump Returns to N.R.A.’s Side

    Gun rights advocates have waged an.

  • President Trump Cancels Trip to Denmark After Greenland Spat

    WASHINGTON — President Trump on Tuesday.

  • Why the 2020 Criminal Justice Debate Is Completely Different

    Marijuana would be decriminalized, mass incarceration.

  • As Wildfires Get Worse, Insurers Pull Back From Riskiest Areas

    “It’s not necessarily the property that’s.

  • Julián Castro Qualifies for the Next Democratic Debate

    The former housing secretary Julián Castro.

  • Trump’s Rollback of Auto Pollution Rules Shows Signs of Disarray

    That means the process is now.

  • On Politics: Trump Prepares for Economic Trouble

    • Justice Department lawyers told the.

  • Jill Biden, Stressing Trump Matchup, Makes a Blunt Case for Her Husband

    Jill Biden laid out the political.

  • Apologies and Scorn Greet News of a Book by Mark Halperin

    Reports of a new book deal.

  • ‘I Am Sorry for Harm I Have Caused,’ Warren Tells Native American Forum – Video

    Channels & Shows Home Search U.S..

  • Elizabeth Warren to Appear at Native American Forum

    SIOUX CITY, Iowa — Senator Elizabeth.

  • ‘I Can Still Smell Him’: For 4 Legislators, This Law Is Personal

    Yuh-Line Niou told no one for.

  • On Politics: Trump’s Economic Conspiracy

    As the economy shows ominous signs,.

  • In Economic Warning Signals, Trump Sees Signs of a Conspiracy

    And signs of damage from Mr..

  • Julián Castro’s Obama Moment – The New York Times

    Mr. Castro divided his remarks into.

  • After Trump Body Shames Him, Supporter Says ‘I Love the Guy’

    Sometimes the self-declared greatest counterpuncher in.

  • U.S. Can Block Migrants Seeking Asylum, but Only in Some States, Appeals Court Rules

    A federal appeals court said Friday.

  • House Panel Will End Recess Early for Gun Safety Votes

    WASHINGTON — The House Judiciary Committee,.

  • Lawmakers Accuse State Dept. of Defying Federal Law by Missing Deadlines for Yemen Reports

    WASHINGTON — In defiance of federal.

  • Debate Flares Over Afghanistan as Trump Considers Troop Withdrawal

    Skeptics say it is naïve to.

  • Trump’s Pittsburgh Speech Was a Paying Gig for Audience

    Thousands of union workers at a.

  • How Stephen Miller Rode an Anti-Immigration Wave to the White House

    Once a lonely cause, restrictionism had.

  • Israel’s Alliance With Trump Creates New Tensions Among American Jews

    A rabbi in St. Louis Park,.

  • In D.C., Trading Politics for a Paddle

    We launched into the Potomac River.

  • Joseph Kennedy III Said to Be Eying Edward Markey’s Massachusetts Senate Seat

    Mr. Kennedy delivered the Democratic response.

  • Eyeing Greenland, Trump Again Mixes Real Estate With Diplomacy

    WASHINGTON — Go ahead and file.

  • Peace Road Map for Afghanistan Will Let Taliban Negotiate Women’s Rights

    WASHINGTON — Roya Rahmani is neither.