Michael Avenatti is charged with defrauding Stormy Daniels by using 'doctored document to divert $300,000 she was supposed to get from a book deal'
- Prosecutors have charged Michael Avenatti, 48, with ripping off Stormy Daniels
- The controversial ex lawyer of Daniels is accused of taking $300,000 which had been intended to be paid to the former porn star as part of her tell-all book deal
- A charging document said Avenatti forged Daniels' signature and had large advances on the book deal diverted to an account controlled by himself
- Allegedly used the funds for airfare, restaurants, car payments and dry cleaning
- The new charges were filed by federal prosecutors in Manhattan who have already accused Avenatti of extortion in a case involving the sports brand Nike
- Avenatti, 48, was previously arrested by the FBI and charged with embezzlement, wire, bank and bankruptcy fraud as well as tax-related charges
- The attorney said: 'No monies relating to Daniels were ever misappropriated or mishandled,' adding 'she received millions of dollars worth of legal services'
Federal Prosecutors have charged Michael Avenatti with ripping off his former client Stormy Daniels - the latest in a string of legal woes for the controversial attorney.
Avenatti, who was Daniels' lawyer and helped set the political stage for her high-profile crusade against Trump, is accused of misappropriating funds belonging to the ex adult film star amounting to nearly $300,000, prosecutors announced.
The 48-year-old is accused of forging Daniels' signature which meant two payments of $148,750 were sent to a bank account under his control, which he then used for personal expenditure while lying to his client about the whereabouts of the money.
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The former lawyer of Stormy Daniels, 48, who set the political stage for the adult film actress' high-profile crusade against Trump, is accused of misappropriating funds that were supposed to be paid his client, prosecutors have announced
The indictment states that Daniels was owed four large installments in return for her tell-all book deal, which was negotiated and secured by Avenatti on her behalf.
Before the literary agent wired the second of four installments as part of the advance, Avenatti allegedly sent a forged letter instructing them to send all future payments to a client trust account, which was in Daniels' name but controlled by him.
The literary agent then wired $148,750 to the account, which Avenatti allegedly began spending for his own purposes including on airfare, hotels, car services, restaurants and meal delivery and online shopping - as well as on the payroll for his law firm and another business he owned, the damning charging document states.
When Daniels began to question why she was yet to receive her second installment, Avenatti allegedly claimed to be in the process of obtaining the payment from the publishers.
One month later, he allegedly used funds recently received from another source to pay Daniels back in a bid to cover his tracks.
The following week, the third installment of of $148,750 allegedly reached his account, which he then began spending on lease payments on his luxury car, airfare, hotels, restaurants and even payments to someone he had a close relationship with.
Avenatti (pictured enjoying a cigar) is accused of forging Daniels' signature which meant $300,000 intended for his client was sent to a bank account controlled by him - which he subsequently spent on meals out and other services
Avenatti pictured with his ex girlfriend enjoying a lavish lifestyle in Paris
Avenatti then claimed that the book publisher was refusing to make the payment, despite Daniels' desperate demands for her missing funds.
He is charged with one count of wire fraud, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, and one count of aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory prison term of two years.
On Wednesday, Avenatti told ABC News: 'No monies relating to Daniels were ever misappropriated or mishandled.
'She received millions of dollars worth of legal services and we expended huge sums in expenses. She directly paid only $100.00 for all that she received,' he said.
Avenatti was also indicted for his alleged attempted extortion of the sports apparel brand Nike, which he said in recent tweets that he expected imminently and looked forward to clearing his name in court, having been accused in March.
Avenatti was arrested in March after federal prosecutors said he threatened to expose that Nike improperly paid high school basketball players unless the company paid him up to $25 million.
Before the literary agent wired the second of four installments as part of the book advance, the lawyer allegedly sent a forged letter instructing them to send all future payments to a client trust account, which was in her name but controlled by Avenatti
THE CHARGES AGAINST AVENATTI
10 counts of wire fraud
Avenatti allegedly committed wire fraud by lying to five clients about their settlements from cases he represented them in.
The total sum of the money he allegedly misappropriated is $12million.
He is accused of not only hiding their payments from them but spending the money himself on private planes, repaying the IRS and funding his own businesses between 2015 and 2017.
19 counts of tax fraud
Avenatti has not filed personal income tax returns since 2010, it is claimed.
Between 2015 and 2017, his coffee company Global Baristas US, did not pay $3.2million in federal payroll taxes.
More than $2million of that figure was withheld from staff pay checks and spent by Avenatti himself, it is alleged.
2 counts of bank fraud
The two bank fraud charges relate to the original indictment and claims he submitted bogus financial information to obtain three loans totaling $4.1 million from The People’s Bank in Mississippi.
The bogus information included a tax return that had never been sent to the IRS and him overstating his law firm's resources when it was on the brink of bankruptcy.
One said his firm, Eagan Avenatti, had more than $500,000 in an operating account when it only had $43,000, it is claimed.
4 counts bankruptcy fraud
Three of the bankruptcy fraud charges allege that Avenatti submitted, under penalty of perjury, monthly operating reports that failed to report all of the firm’s accounts receivable in 2017.
Avenatti is charged with falsely testifying under oath during a June 2017 bankruptcy hearing by denying the firm had received any fees related to a lawsuit when Eagan Avenatti had actually received more than $1.3 million
New York case 1
Conspiracy to commit extortion
Avenatti allegedly attempted to extort Nike by saying he had information which incriminated it in a pay-for-play college basketball scandal this year.
He allegedly told the company that he would conduct an internal investigation for a $25million fee instead of exposing it.
Nike reported him.
New York case 2
Charged with misappropriating funds belonging to the ex adult film star Stormy Daniels to the tune of nearly $300,000.
He has denied those allegations - as well as the separate charges of tax, wire and bank fraud in California.
He wrote: 'I expect an indictment to issue from SDNY in the next 48 hrs charging me in connection with my arrest in March,' the Tweet said.
'I intend on fighting these bogus/legally baseless allegations, and will plead not guilty to ALL CHARGES. I look forward to the trial where I can begin to clear my name.'
Avenatti, whose star rose dramatically alongside Daniels', briefly flirted with joining the Democratic primary for president in 2020, but was arrested by the FBI and charged with embezzlement, wire and bankruptcy fraud as well as tax-related charges, scuppering his grand plans.
The indictments mark yet another blow for the attorney, after federal prosecutors on both coasts unsealed charges against him.
Avenatti was indicted on separate charges unrelated to Daniels in April - some 36 counts in California, including wire and bank fraud - a trial is scheduled for June 25.
Prosecutors said Avenatti embezzled settlement funds and proceeds from other matters he handled for five clients and doled out small portions, sometimes labeling them as advances to prevent thefts from being discovered.
The indictment states that Daniels was owed four large installments in return for her tell-all book deal, which was negotiated and secured by Avenatti on her behalf
When Daniels began to question why she was yet to receive her second installment, Avenatti allegedly claimed to be in the process of obtaining the payment from the publishers
One of the alleged victims is Geoffrey Ernest Johnson, a mentally ill paraplegic who won a $4million settlement from Los Angeles County in 2015 stemming from his jailhouse suicide attempts.
Prosecutors said Avenatti hid the settlement from him for years and spent the money himself on his coffee business, Global Baristas US, and race car team.
A grand jury indictment claimed that in 2017, Avenatti received $2.75million in a separate case but hid that from his client too.
The next day, he allegedly spent $2.5million of the money on a private plane. In one case, he allegedly lied about already wiring a client $4million, saying he had done it when he had not.
Avenatti also is accused of failing to file personal tax returns since 2010 and depositing millions of dollars into his personal bank accounts.
He also failed to file returns, it is claimed, for his law firms, Eagan Avenatti and Avenatti & Associates.
Not only did not not file his own returns but he allegedly stole $2.4million in taxes from the paychecks of employees of his coffee business.
He withheld it from them, claiming they were going to the IRS, but never sent the money, it is claimed.
The lawyer, who is free on $300,000 bond, has denied the charges, saying he had made powerful enemies and would plead not guilty and fight the case.
'The right to a presumption of innocence and the right to a jury trial are two fundamental rights that our founding fathers demanded when this country was formed over 200 years ago,' he said in a statement before the April hearing.
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