On February 14, disgraced attorney Michael Avenatti was found guilty of all charges of attempting to steal $ 23.5 million from Nike, and now faces up to 42 years in prison. But there is one thing to be happy about: he was finally transferred out of the downtown Manhattan prison cell he despises.
The attorney, who represented porn star Stormy Daniels in a 2018 bankruptcy lawsuit against Donald Trump, was arrested last March and accused of attempting to extort the shoe brand on illegally channeled payments to college basketball players.
In January, before his trial, he was transferred from a Californian facility to the well-known 10 South, a prison inside TriBeCa’s Metropolitan Correctional Center that Miami-based lawyer Scott Srebnick of Avenatti described to the Post as “pure dehumanization”.
In a January protest letter, Srebnick complained that the temperature of the 8′-x-10 cell was in the mid-1940s and that his client was “forced to sleep with three blankets … [and] shaving is not allowed. “In summer, the temperature reportedly becomes debilitating.
Avenatti was transferred to South 5, a general population structure, on Thursday, after one of his defense attorneys, Danya Perry, wrote an appeal to the MCC – saying that Avenatti had reached a “breaking point”.
“[Avenatti] he was in a cell where everything he does is looked at. He took a shower in view of the cameras. He could not control the lights [which reportedly never turn off], “Srebnick added his client’s old South cell 10.” There was no privacy. “
Avenatti is not the only famous tenant who has been made unhappy by the conditions at 10 south. In 2017, the same cell was home to Mexican drug cartel boss Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, whose lawyers called the terms “overly punitive”.
Michael Lambert, who runs a law firm representing El Chapo, told The Post that conditions in the 10 south – a special housing unit designed primarily to contain terrorists and others who are expected to face threats from the general prison population or be a threat themselves – they are “nothing short of tortured”.
“The air conditioner emits dirty air and makes strange noises that make it difficult to sleep,” one of El Chapo’s lawyers, Mariel Colon Miró, told The Post. “There are no vending machines, bottles of water, fresh air or sunlight. There are very small windows, but they have frosted glass, which blocks the light. “
In a letter sent to prison while El Chapo was there, he complained that he could “taste and see the mold coming out of the tap”.
Often referred to as “SHU” (Special Housing Unit), 10 South is made up of six isolation cells. According to Miro, each contains a mat on the floor, in addition to a bathroom, a sink and a shower.
An hour a day, from Monday to Friday, Avenatti was escorted to a room characterized by a “lonely cage”, a cramped and dark space with an exercise bike and a TV. No time was spent outdoors. The gym, said Srebnick, “has a stick through which the wind blows.”
The prison is also said to be infested with parasites. “I have seen cockroaches; I’ve seen mice, ”said Miro. “I’ve heard them scratch through walls all the time.” A former 10 South inmate told Gothamist that the rodents are “so big, it looked like they could only be in the sewers.”
In the new home of Avenatti, in the south 5, the general privileges of the population include 92 hours outside the cell per week, during which prisoners have unlimited (but monitored) access to e-mail, privileges on cell phones, television privileges and access to library.
In April, Avenatti will be tried in the same court for alleged theft of $ 300,000 by Daniels. He will later be tried in California on charges of robbing customers, defrauding bank loans, evading taxes and lying during bankruptcy proceedings. At some point, he will be sent to a federal penitentiary.
For now, he is happy to see 10 South in the rear view.
“The human mind can only take so much,” said Srebnick.
With additional reports from Melkorka Licea