Published: Fri, April 12, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Michael Avenatti charged with fraud, tax crimes in California

Michael Avenatti charged with fraud, tax crimes in California

Attorney Michael Avenatti was charged in a 36-count federal indictment made public by federal prosecutors in Los Angeles on Thursday that alleges he stole millions of dollars from clients, did not pay his taxes, committed bank fraud and lied in bankruptcy proceedings. "I intend to fully fight all charges and plead NOT GUILTY". Prosecutors said he allegedly told Johnson that he had not received the payout from a settlement from Los Angeles County yet, but instead gave him at least 69 payments worth an estimated $124,000 in total and paid for his assisted living facility.

The court ordered federal agents to seize Avenatti's jet at Santa Barbara Airport on Wednesday. Prosecutors said Avenatti would receive money from clients and use it to "finance his business and his personal expenses", in one case including a private jet.

The IRS reportedly began investigating Avenatti more than a year ago, though it's also been noted that that attorney "began to run afoul of the IRS nearly a decade ago" by failing to file income tax returns. The charges say he used a similar method to steal $2.75 million from another client.

The allegations involving Avenatti's disabled former client add an element of depravity to the criminal case.

The indictment moves Avenatti, 48, a step closer to a trial.

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On March 25, prosecutors in the Southern District of NY alleged that Avenatti tried to extract more than $20 million from Nike, and said if the company did not pay him, he would hold a press conference attacking the company.

The attorney is accused of stealing "millions of dollars from five clients and used a tangled web of shell companies and bank accounts to cover up the theft".

Avenatti and his various businesses also owed millions in back taxes, and his Newport Beach law firm was reaching bankruptcy, the Times reported. In fact, Avenatti hadn't filed a 2011 tax return with the IRS. Trump has denied having an affair with Daniels. He's also defending himself on Twitter.

A vocal critic of President Donald Trump whose presence on cable television a year ago made him a national figure, Avenatti now finds himself buried in legal travails on both coasts.

Adult film actress Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels, speaks to media alongside Avenatti, her lawyer, outside a federal court in the Manhattan borough of New York City on April 16, 2018.

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