New (Yes, New!) Michael Avenatti Indicted on 36 Counts by California Federal Grand Jury
Celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti has been indicted on 36 counts by California federal grand jury — accused of ripping off mentally ill paraplegic client.
The charges include tax crimes, wire fraud, bank fraud, and perjury.
The indictment comes more than two weeks after federal prosecutors in Los Angeles and New York hit Avenatti with separate criminal complaints.
In the New York federal case, Avenatti is accused of trying to extort more than $20 million from Nike by threatening to expose alleged bribery of amateur basketball players and their families unless the company coughed up cash to Avenatti and a client.
All this comes more than a year after the Twitter-addicted litigator first gained widespread notoriety for his representation of porn star Stormy Daniels in her legal issues with President Donald Trump and his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen.
The new, 61-page indictment unsealed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in Santa Ana alleges that Avenatti for years hid and then completely spent a $4 million legal settlement obtained in January 2015 in favor of a mentally ill paraplegic client, and hid a $2.75 million settlement for another client that Aventatti allegedly used to help pay for his share of the purchase of a private jet valued at up to $5 million.
That jet was seized by federal authorities on Wednesday.
Most of the money for the paraplegic client, Geoffrey Ernest Johnson, allegedly was funnelled to a company that managed Avenatti’s race-car team, and to his coffee company, Global Baristas, which operated the Tully’s chain.
If convicted in the new California case, Avenatti faces a maximum possible sentence of 333 years in prison.
Prosecutors said Avenatti failed to pay millions of dollars of taxes due the IRS.
In all, Avenatti is charged with 10 counts of wire fraud, 19 tax-related offenses, two counts of bank fraud, and four counts of bankruptcy fraud. The bankruptcy counts relate to allegedly false statements that Avenatti filed in connection with the bankruptcy of his law firm Eagan Avenatti.
Federal prosecutors in L.A. accused him in their prior complaint of defrauding a legal client by looting a $1.6 million civil settlement for that man to pay for Avenatti’s personal and business expenses.
He was also accused in that case of defrauding a Mississippi bank by using bogus federal income tax returns to apply for and receive $4 million in loans.
Avenatti is scheduled to be arraigned on the indictment on April 29 in federal court in Santa Ana.