Attorney Michael Avenatti Indicted on 36 Counts of Embezzlement, Fraud, Tax Evasion

12 April, 2019, 10:48 | Author: Emmett Rice
  • Michael Avenatti

A federal grand jury has brought a 36-count indictment against celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti, charging him with embezzlement, fraud, perjury, and more.

In a case involving one client, Avenatti allegedly funneled a $2.75 million settlement into his bank accounts and spent $2.5 million on a private airplane, the indictment said.

A hearing was set for 9 a.m. PDT Thursday, when federal prosecutors will release more information in the case.

"Mr. Johnson is the victim of an appalling fraud perpetrated by the one person who owed him loyalty and honesty most of all: his own lawyer", said attorney Josh Robbins.

In another instance, Avenatti allegedly took $2.5 million from a $2.75 million client settlement payment to purchase his portion of a private jet, while falsely telling the client that the settlement was set up to provide monthly payments over eight years.

A jet co-owned by Avenatti was seized Wednesday as part of the ongoing investigation, officials said.

Weeks later, the U.S. Attorney's office for the Central District of California has scheduled a press conference to announce further charges against Avenatti.

Avenatti, who is free on a $300,000 bond, tweeted Thursday morning that he'd made many powerful enemies over the last two decades. Avenatti has said he is innocent. An indictment is expected soon in that case.

After the impending indictment was reported, Avenatti defended himself on Twitter, saying he was "confident that justice will be done".

In an emailed statement, law firm Greenberg Gross LLP identified Client 1 as a man named Geoffrey Johnson.

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It is Lawyer 101: "You do not steal your clients' money", said Hanna.

In the Johnson theft, the indictment alleges, Avenatti received $4 million from Los Angeles County in 2015 to settle the paraplegic's suit over his treatment at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility. Avenatti was also accused of using fraudulent tax returns to secure a bank loan. In California, it was alleged that Avenatti committed wire fraud and bank fraud to embezzle a client's money for the goal of paying off his own debts.

After getting the $4 million, the indictment says, Avenatti did not tell Johnson the money had arrived. Avenatti told his client that these payments were "advances" on the settlement.

The charges are the latest major blow to a career that took off a year ago when Avenatti represented Daniels in her lawsuit to break a confidentiality agreement with Trump to stay mum about an affair they allegedly had.

A grand jury has indicted attorney Michael Avenatti on 36 federal counts, and he's potentially looking at life in prison.

If Avenatti is found guilty of all charges in the new indictment, he could be sentenced to a maximum of 335 years in prison.

When the IRS started garnishing the company's bank accounts, the indictment says, Avenatti ordered employees to deposit the stores' cash and credit-card receipts in new accounts under a new company name.

Listen to the Guys Who Law talk about Avenatti's troubles below!

In fact, the indictment says, Avenatti "well knew" that the firm had received almost $1.4 million on May 17, 2017.

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