The disgraced lawyer who represented porn star Stormy Daniels in her battle with Donald Trump was sentenced to another jail term Monday, this time in California.
Michael Avenatti, who acted for Daniels in her lawsuit against the former US president, was given a 14-year sentence for stealing money from his clients and for not paying taxes.
This sentence will be on top of a five-year prison term he received for convictions in New York relating to trying to extort sportswear firm Nike and to stealing from Daniels, US District Judge James Selna ruled.
Federal prosecutors said Avenatti pilfered $12.35 million from his clients by skimming settlements he reached on their behalf.
In a sentencing submission prosecutors said Avenatti “would lie about the true terms of the settlement agreement he had negotiated for the client, conceal the settlement payments that the counterparty had made, secretly take and spend the settlement proceeds that belonged to the client, and lull the client into not complaining or investigating further by providing small ‘advances’ on the supposedly yet-to-be-paid funds.”
They also charged he was a tax cheat, citing failure to pay payroll taxes after his firm acquired Tully’s Coffee in bankruptcy, to the tune of $3.2 million, and had avoided paying $1.6 million in payroll taxes from his law firm.
Avenatti had admitted the charges at an earlier appearance.
Avenatti’s fall from grace was as dizzying as his rise, when he became internationally famous in 2018 as the glib lawyer who appeared beside Daniels baiting the then-president.
Daniels was embroiled in a legal battle with Trump over hush money she received for an alleged affair with him in 2006.
Reveling in his role as an outspoken critic of the president, Avenatti appeared frequently on camera and on social media, raising suspicions that he harbored ambitions for a run for the White House.
But while representing Daniels, Avenatti was also defrauding her.
He tricked literary agents into sending $300,000 of an $800,000 advance she received for a book called “Full Disclosure” into a bank account that he controlled, without her knowledge.
Avenatti then spent the money on personal and professional expenses including plane tickets, restaurant meals and the lease of a Ferrari, prosecutors said.