Celebrity attorney and Donald Trump antagonist Michael Avenatti had a swift rise, but his fall is going to last a lot longer.
On Thursday, U.S. District Court judge Jesse Furman sentenced Avenatti to four years in prison for stealing from his former client Stormy Daniels, the adult-film actress who received a six-figure hush-money payment from Trump during the 2016 campaign to hide their alleged affair. Earlier this year, Avenatti was convicted of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft for stealing $300,000 of a book advance from Daniels, faking her signature to send nearly half of the payments for her 2018 memoir to his bank account. Among other things, prosecutors say he spent the money to pay his Ferrari lease.
Avenatti, who presented himself as a hero of the so-called resistance against the Trump administration, is already in prison. Last summer, he was convicted of extortion and wire fraud in California for trying to get Nike to pay out $25 million in exchange for withholding bad press about the company, for which he was sentenced to two and a half years in prison. Furman said in court in lower Manhattan on Thursday that the first 18 months of Avenatti’s sentence for the Daniels conviction will be served concurrently with the Nike sentence; after that, he will serve an additional two and a half years in prison. Furman also ordered the criminal lawyer to pay $148,750 to Daniels and $297,900 to the federal government.
Avenatti’s bad year in court is not over. In July, he will be transferred back to California to face a retrial for allegedly embezzling $10 million in settlement funds from former clients after a judge last year declared a mistrial because prosecutors did not turn over relevant financial evidence.
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