On Wednesday, federal prosecutors charged porn star Stormy Daniels’s former attorney, Michael Avenatti, with ripping off the video vixen and attempting a bit of the ol’ extortion with Nike.
This is unsurprising — as a TV lawyer, he’s about as goofy as they come. Over the course of a year, Avenatti made 254 television appearances.
Take a look at part of the Justice Department’s indictment on fraud and aggravated identity theft:
AVENATTI was separately indicted today on extortion charges, which were the subject of a previous Complaint and arrest of AVENATTI, relating to his alleged attempt to extract more than $20 million in payments from Nike, Inc., by threatening to use his ability to garner publicity to inflict substantial financial and reputational harm on the company if his demands were not met. That case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe of the Southern District of New York.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said: “Michael Avenatti abused and violated the core duty of an attorney – the duty to his client. As alleged, he used his position of trust to steal an advance on the client’s book deal. As alleged, he blatantly lied to and stole from his client to maintain his extravagant lifestyle, including to pay for, among other things, a monthly car payment on a Ferrari. Far from zealously representing his client, Avenatti, as alleged, instead engaged in outright deception and theft, victimizing rather than advocating for his client.”
The charges carry a collective lifetime in the clink:
AVENATTI, 48, of Los Angeles, California, is charged in the fraud and aggravated identity theft indictment with one count of wire fraud, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, and one count of aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory term of imprisonment of two years in addition to the sentence imposed for the wire fraud charge.
AVENATTI is charged in the extortion indictment with one count of conspiracy to transmit interstate communications with intent to extort, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, one count of conspiracy to commit extortion, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, one count of transmission of interstate communications with intent to extort, which carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison, and one count of extortion, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
In my opinion, if you go on television and make stunningly outrageous claims, repeatedly insisting you possess bombshells of proof without ever coughing up the goods, you’re asking for trouble. Avenatti seemed to me a juiced-up bull in a suit so jolted toward fame and riches, he forgot to make any sense. Fast forward through many bad decisions, and here we are.
Although, to be fair: That last sentence could describe the life of pretty much every person on the planet.
Stormy isn’t named in the indictment, but according to The Associated Press, it’s most certainly her:
Daniels isn’t named in the court filing, but the details of the case, including the date her book was released, make it clear that she is the client involved.
He’s really in the stew:
Avenatti was previously charged in New York with trying to extort up to $25 million from Nike by threatening to expose claims that the shoemaker paid off high school basketball players to steer them to Nike-sponsored colleges. And in Los Angeles, he’s facing a multicount federal indictment alleging that he stole millions of dollars from clients, didn’t pay taxes, committed bank fraud and lied during bankruptcy proceedings.
The Los Angeles charges alone carry a potential penalty of more than 300 years in prison.
But, as you might expect:
Avenatti has denied the allegations against him on both coasts, saying he expects to be exonerated.
Yep. Sounds about right.
And on we go.