Michael Avenatti lived a lavish lifestyle for a decade, buying expensive cars and living in luxury apartments, all while evading taxes, IRS records reportedly show.
The embattled lawyer has found himself in a series of controversies over the course of the last week, with charges that he attempted to extort Nike for $25 million by threatening to use his media savvy to “inflict substantial financial and reputational harm,” federal prosecutors in New York said. He was also charged with wire fraud and bank fraud in California.
As Fox News reported, Avenatti could still have more trouble ahead as he stands accused of failing to pay millions of dollars in income taxes. While Avenatti has only burst onto the national scene in the last two years as the lawyer for adult film star Stormy Daniels in her claims of an affair with Donald Trump, federal investigators have been on his case much longer, the report noted. He first came under scrutiny a decade ago, the report noted, when he earned $1.9 million in personal income in 2009, but allegedly failed to pay the $570,000 he owed. Avenatti again failed to pay his full income tax the following year, skipping out on the $282,000 he owed on $1.2 million in income, tax documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times showed.
Authorities also claim that Michael Avenatti used his company, Avenatti & Associates, to pay for personal expenses, including $176,000 for an exclusive vacation club.
Tax records showed that Avenatti was living lavishly during this time period.
“The IRS notes that Avenatti also spent $217,000 at department store Neiman Marcus, nearly $120,000 at a watch store, $277,236 and $39,762 on Porsche and Ferrari dealers respectively,” the Fox News report noted.
“He splashed $100,000-a-month rent on a luxury waterfront house in Newport Beach in California, while also paying $123,825 in rent on his apartment in a luxury high-rise in Century City.”
The allegations represent a sharp decline for the lawyer, who was once seen as a foil for Donald Trump, who could attack the president on Twitter with seemingly no retort from Trump. Avenatti even flirted with the idea of running for president in 2020 before ultimately deciding that he would not — though he still lobbed frequent attacks at Trump.
The extortion charge against attorney Michael Avenatti is full of headline-making details, while the bank fraud and wire fraud charges from federal prosecutors in California are considerably drier. But here's why they're worth keeping an eye on. https://t.co/CImz0OkhGM
— CNN (@CNN) March 28, 2019
Michael Avenatti was freed on $300,000 bond this week and has maintained his innocence. In an interview with TMZ, Avenatti said that his allegations against Nike are still legitimate as well and that he was looking forward to “the executives of Nike being led away in handcuffs.”