Stormy Daniels and Michael Avenatti in April 2018. Photo by JStone / Shutterstock.com.
Attorney Michael Avenatti was accused of stealing from adult film actress Stormy Daniels, the client he represented in an attempt to invalidate his confidentiality agreement with President Donald Trump.
Avenatti is accused of diverting nearly $ 300,000 of an advance due to Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, to his client’s trust account for a contract he helped negotiate on his behalf. Avenatti got the money by sending a fraudulent letter with a fake signature for Daniels to his literary agent, according to the allegations in a press release and the prosecution.
The prosecution does not identify Daniels by name, but the details make it clear that he was the alleged fraudulent customer, report the Associated Press, the New York Times, the Courthouse News Service, the New York Law Journal and Reuters. A person close to the case confirmed to the New York Times that Daniels was the person named “Victim-1” in the indictment.
Avenatti used the money for airline tickets, hotels, car services, restaurants and meal delivery, online retailers, a leasing payment on his Ferrari, payslips for his law firm and another business he owned and insured, according to prosecutors.
After Daniels complained that he hadn’t received the money, Avenatti lied and said he was trying to get paid, prosecutors say. He then used funds received from another source to pay half of the money to Daniels.
Avenatti is accused of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.
He was also indicted on previously announced extortion charges for allegedly attempting to extort millions of dollars from Nike in exchange for his silence over what he claimed was malicious information.
Avenatti was also indicted in Los Angeles on charges of stealing millions of dollars from five other clients, including an ex-convict who had been paralyzed after jumping from the top floor of a prison.
Avenatti has denied all the allegations. On Twitter, he wrote that his deal with Daniels included a percentage of his proceeds from the book.
“No money related to Ms. Daniels has ever been appropriately appropriately or mistreated,” he tweeted. “He received millions of dollars in legal services and we spent huge sums on expenses. He paid only $ 100.00 directly for everything he received. I can’t wait for a jury to listen to the evidence.”