Michael Avenatti, the attorney who famously represented adult-film actress Stormy Daniels in her cases against Donald Trump, has been charged with 36 criminal counts in California, CNBC is reporting. These new criminal charges are in addition to ongoing criminal cases he faces in other states.
U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna and IRS officials in Los Angeles unsealed the 61-page indictment, provided in sum by CNBC, on Thursday morning. The documents detail 36 criminal counts against the former attorney.
In five specific cases, Avenatti allegedly defrauded five clients out of millions of dollars, hiding the allegedly-stolen money in dummy corporations and shell companies. Meanwhile, his clients would be waiting for settlement money that he would allegedly promise was coming, at times even giving them “advances” on the settlement money that he had actually already hidden away.
In one particularly galling allegation, Avenatti is accused of defrauding a mentally ill, paraplegic client of a $4 million settlement — allegedly funneling the money to a company that managed his race-car team, among some of his other interests. Meanwhile, Avenatti allegedly failed to respond to the Social Security Administration’s requests for information about the client, causing the client to have their Supplemental Security benefits discontinued in February.
In another case, Avenatti is accused of defrauding another client of $2.75 million, which Avenatti allegedly used to put towards the purchase of a private jet.
Further, in another case, he’s accused of keeping $2.4 million that had been withheld from workers for federal taxes from employees of his company, Global Baristas.
Avenatti also stands accused of not paying income taxes on any of the fraudulently-obtained money.
In a statement, Hanna said that the entire operation of defrauding clients — and moving money here and there — was all a part of a larger scheme to artificially prop up Avenatti’s financial “house of cards.”
“Money generated from one set of crimes appears in other sets.”
In total, Avenatti faces 10 counts of wire fraud, 19 tax-related offenses, two counts of bank fraud, and four counts of bankruptcy fraud in the California indictment.
Avenatti is also facing a federal indictment, unsealed in New York last week, which accuses him of attempting to blackmail Nike. Avenatti allegedly threatened to reveal payments to college athletes if the sporting goods manufacturer didn’t give him $20 million.
In a text message to CNBC, Avenatti claimed that he is the victim of a smear campaign.
“For 20 years I have represented Davids vs. Goliaths and relied on due process and our system of justice. Along the way, I have made many powerful enemies.”
Avenatti is currently free on $300,000 bail.