The Slatest

Michael Avenatti Pleads Not Guilty to Dozens of Charges That He Was Better at Stealing Than Lawyering

Michael Avenatti after being charged with bank and wire fraud outside the federal courthouse in Santa Ana, California on April 1, 2019.
Michael Avenatti after being charged with bank and wire fraud outside the federal courthouse in Santa Ana, California on April 1, 2019. FREDERIC J. BROWN/Getty Images

Attorney Michael Avenatti was in federal court Monday, this time as a defendant pleading not guilty to 36 counts, which include wire and bank fraud relating to a series of alleged embezzlement schemes that saw him swipe money from a paraplegic man and the ex-girlfriend of an NBA player. It’s quite an astonishing fall for the man who made his name as former porn star Stormy Daniels’ attorney as she battled with former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen and then, somehow, grew in stature to a national anti-Trump spokesman camped out on CNN and MSNBC taking shots at the president in the name of decency and justice. For a moment, Avenatti’s ascent had reached so high that he even toyed with running for president himself before things started to unravel for the 48-year-old.

“With a public defender at his side, the 48-year-old Avenatti pleaded not guilty to all charges in the 36-count indictment which alleges that he stole more than $12 million in settlement money from five of his clients, failed to file income tax returns, failed to pay millions in taxes, submitted fraudulent loan applications and concealing assets from bankruptcy court,” CBS L.A. reports. Even in the age of Trump that, um, isn’t exactly presidential material. The allegations made against Avenatti aren’t pretty. Here’s what prosecutors are accusing Avenatti of in the case that is expected to go to trial on June 25:

• Stealing $4 million from a paraplegic man to finance a coffee business.

• Embezzling $2.5 million from the ex-girlfriend of Miami Heat player Hassan Whiteside to purchase a portion of a private jet.

• Failing to file personal income tax returns from 2010 onward.

• Using fake financial data and forged personal income tax returns in order to secure $4.1 million in loans from a bank in Mississippi.

In an unrelated, but equally not great development, Avenatti was also charged last month with trying to extort more than $20 million from Nike.

Avenatti 2020!