Michael Avenatti Receives 4-Year Sentence For Defrauding Stormy Daniels
Michael Avenatti, the attorney who first gained notoriety by suing Donald Trump on behalf of adult film star Stormy Daniels, has been sentenced to four years in prison for wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. Avenatti was found guilty in February of cooking up a scheme to steal about $300,000 from his then-client Daniels, or Stephanie Clifford.
District Judge Jesse Furman called Avenatti’s crimes “brazen and egregious,” and said he “breached the highest duty a lawyer owes” their client. Furman also told Avenatti, “I hope you put your formidable talents to better use.”
The conviction stems from Avenatti’s management of an $800,000 advance Daniels received to write her memoir Full Disclosure. It was eventually proved by prosecutors that he submitted a false letter with Daniels’ forged signature to her literary agency, and was able to redirect part of her payment to his bank account.
He reportedly spent the money on the payroll for his own law firm, leasing a Ferrari, and other luxuries like restaurant visits. Avenatti paid part of the hundreds of thousands of dollars he took back but still hasn’t returned nearly $150,000 to her.
Avenatti’s lawyers attempted to soften his sentence by requesting he serve parts of it simultaneously with the 30-month prison sentence that the disgraced lawyer was hit with for trying to extort Nike. Part of his four-year sentence will be served simultaneously, with Furman ruling that he serve two-and-a-half years of the Daniels sentence after completing his time for Nike.
He was ordered to pay Daniels $148,750 and the U.S. government $297,900.
While Avenatti was obstinate about his innocence in February at the time of his conviction, he appeared more emotional in court on Thursday and admitted some harm his actions caused. “I have destroyed my family, my career, my relationships and my reputation and have done collateral damage to my family and my life,” he said.
He also told the court “I own the conduct for which I was convicted. I disappointed scores of people and failed in a cataclysmic way.”