Michael Avenatti’s Wednesday Arrest Is Not His First Brush With The Law

LAS VEGAS, NV - AUGUST 31: Attorney Michael Avenatti speaks during a news conference with Battle Born Progress, a progressive communications organization, on August 31, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ethan Miller / Getty Images

Michael Avenatti has made a name for himself as a celebrity lawyer by representing Stormy Daniels, but he’s also solidified a strong reputation as a Trump opposer and potential 2020 Presidential candidate.

On Wednesday, people saw a glimpse of a possible dark side to Michael Avenatti when the lawyer was arrested on charges of domestic violence. But this is hardly the first time Avenatti has had a brush with the law.

After making a name for himself as one of the heads of a multi-million-dollar law firm, Eagan Avenatti LLP, Michael Avenatti found himself in the media for a different reason. In 2017, the law firm filed for bankruptcy when it couldn’t pay a Florida man the relatively small sum of $28,700, according to CNN.

At the time, Michael Avenatti was already scheduled for a deposition in an arbitration with a former partner who claimed the law firm owed him $18 million.

The firm filed for involuntary bankruptcy, a rarely-used legal procedure that froze the then-ongoing arbitration proceedings. Avenatti did not have to be questioned under oath in the case as a result.

The judge who ruled on the bankruptcy said that it all “had the stench of impropriety.”

And that’s not the first time that Avenatti’s business practices have been called into question, either. Avenatti’s investment firm has been named in more than 50 legal complaints, both state and federal. This includes warrants for unpaid taxes and commercial lawsuits, according to the Seattle Times.

The California State Bar Association received a complaint about Avenatti that accused him of “pump and dump” business schemes. The complaint alleges that Avenatti’s company illegal took money from employees and fraudulently transferred money between multiple business holdings.

Avenatti’s business partner sued him in August 2013. The business partner in question is actor Patrick Dempsey, whom you may know from Grey’s Anatomy. According to his suit, Avenatti secretly took out a business loan without Dempsey’s knowledge.

The two settled the suit out of court, and are no longer business partners.

There are several pending cases still open against Avenatti brought by more than dozen creditors who say the lawyer owes them money, either through his law firm or one of the other businesses he owns, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Avenatti was taken into police custody on Wednesday following a complaint of domestic violence, according to USA Today.

As of Wednesday evening, the lawyer was still in the process of being booked and entered into the criminal justice system. The LAPD said in a tweet that this is “an ongoing investigation.”

Avenatti has denied the charges and called the allegations “completely bogus.”

“I have never been physically abusive in my life nor was I last night. Any accusations to the contrary are fabricated and meant to do harm to my reputation. I look forward to being fully exonerated,” he said in a statement.

Avenatti was scheduled to make some appearances at political events in Vermont this weekend, appointments that have now been canceled.