US lawyer Avenatti guilty of stealing from porn actress

By: AFP
Published: 12:43 PM, 5 Feb, 2022
US lawyer Avenatti guilty of stealing from porn actress
Caption: File photo of porn actress Stormy Daniels.
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Disgraced US celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti was found guilty Friday of stealing $300,000 from porn actress Stormy Daniels, who was due the money for writing a book about her alleged tryst with Donald Trump.

Avenatti, who represented Daniels in her lawsuit against the former president, was convicted of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft following a trial in the Manhattan federal court in New York.

It was the latest criminal conviction for the 50-year-old former California attorney who was found guilty in February 2020 of trying to extort millions of dollars from sports apparel giant Nike.

Avenatti's current predicament is a far cry from the dizzying heights of February 2018 to March 2019 when he was the lawyer for Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford.

He became a household name during her legal battles with Trump over hush money she received for an alleged affair with the then-real estate developer in 2006.

Reveling in his role as an outspoken critic of the president and darling of America's left, Avenatti appeared frequently on camera and on social media, raising suspicions that he harbored a run for the White House.

But 12 New York jurors agreed with prosecutors that while representing Daniels, Avenatti was also defrauding her.

He tricked literary agents into sending $300,000 of an $800,000 advance she received for a book called "Full Disclosure" into a bank account that he controlled, without her knowledge. 

Avenatti then spent the money on personal and professional expenses including plane tickets, restaurant meals and the lease of a Ferrari, prosecutors said.

He later paid back about half the money, or $150,000. Avenatti, representing himself during the trial, unsuccessfully argued that he was owed the payments.

Wire fraud and aggravated identity theft carry a total maximum prison sentence of 22 years although Avenatti is likely to serve much less.

He was sentenced to two and a half years in jail last summer for the attempted extortion of Nike and also faces a re-trial in a fraud case in California.

Categories : Entertainment
AFP

Agence France-Presse is an international news agency.