May 28, 2019

Avenatti indicted with fraud, aggravated identity theft, in relation to Stormy Daniels


For CNN, Erica Orden reports on the latest Michael Avenatti fiasco: a New York grand jury indicted the famous attorney with fraud and aggravated identity theft involving Stormy Daniels, his former client, during her testimony against Donald Trump last year. Avenatti is also indicted for “attempting to extort more than $20 million from sportswear giant Nike.”

Orden writes:

Prosecutors charged Avenatti, 48, with stealing about $300,000 of Daniels’ advance for her book contract, according to court papers, and using that money to pay employees of his law firm and a coffee business he owned. Daniels isn’t named in the indictment, but she is the individual referred to as ‘Victim-1,’ according to a person familiar with the matter.
Avenatti threw himself in the spotlight while representing Daniels, the former adult film star, whose lawsuit against President Donald  Trump over a nondisclosure agreement back in 2006, brought to light both his extramarital affair with the actress, and his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen’s illegal dealings.
The money Avenatti allegedly stole comes from Daniels’s book deal with St. Martin’s Press. Daniels reportedly had a $800,000 advance negotiated in part by Avenatti, who then attempted to persuade Daniels’ agent to have the money directly transferred into an account only he oversaw.
Orden continues:
When her agent told Avenatti that she couldn’t do so without Daniels’ authorization, Avenatti sent the agent a letter with a forgery of Daniels’ signature, according to the indictment. Avenatti then lied to Daniels, telling her the publisher hadn’t made the payments, when in reality he used the money to cover payroll costs for his law firm, Eagan Avenatti LLP; a $3,900 lease payment for a Ferrari; and expenses including dry cleaning, airfare, hotels and car services.
This is the third indictment charged against Avenatti in the last six weeks. The trial is set for August.

Alex Primiani is the associate director of publicity at Melville House.