Stormy Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, landed in hot water on Monday. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Dennis Landin has ordered Avenatti to personally pay a sum of $4.85 million to Jason Frank, a lawyer who worked at his former law firm.
According to TIME, the order came as a result of the fact that Avenatti had promised a settlement to Frank, who later alleged that Avenatti’s firm had “misstated its profits” in order to pay him less, and that he was still owed millions by the firm.
In the meantime, Avenatti claimed that Frank owed him and the firm around $12 million for committing fraud while working for them. He did not comment further on the alleged fraud, and Avenatti has not confirmed whether or not he has filed a lawsuit against Frank for this supposed amount. In Frank’s case against Avenatti, the latter failed to fail a single opposing argument in the case, and didn’t even appear in court on Monday for the ruling.
Frank’s attorney, Eric George, has denied Avenatti’s claims, saying his client “doesn’t owe a dime.” George added that while Avenatti is fully within his rights to appeal the judge’s decision, doing so would be “dead in the water,” given that he didn’t bother to file any arguments in the first place.
George feels that Avenatti has dragged this suit out far longer than was really necessary to begin with.
“He’s managed to delay this for ages. At the end of the day, this is money that’s owed. No matter how you try to spin it, it comes back to the fact that he took money, it wasn’t his and now there’s a judgment saying it’s owed to my client. It’ll be important to keep an eye on him and sources of money that are coming in, see what his assets are, and take it from there.”
Frank had worked at Avenatti’s firm as an independent contractor, and was promised a full 25 percent of the firm’s annual profits, in addition to the 20 percent he was supposed to collect from his clients’ fees. After he failed to receive that amount, a judgement in May ordered the firm to pay him $10 million. Avenatti’s payment is to be in addition to that amount.
Back in July, the Justice Department stated that Avenatti had “made misrepresentations” in the firm’s bankruptcy case, and determined that more than $440,000 was owed by the firm in federal taxes. According to Avenatti’s lawyers, the matter was resolved, although the Justice Department claimed the money was still owed as settlement negotiations were ongoing.