SANTA ANA, Calif. –
Accused attorney Michael Avenatti on Thursday pleaded guilty to four counts of wire fraud and one tax-related charge in a Southern California federal court case alleging defrauding his clients. millions of dollars.
Avenatti pleaded guilty in a Santa Ana trial. Prosecutors say Avenatti’s guilty pleas could carry up to 83 years in prison
The 51-year-old attorney, who represented him in the California lawsuit earlier this week, said that although he failed to reach an agreement with federal prosecutors, he wants to change his plea to accountability. and save his family further confusion.
Federal prosecutors accused Avenatti of defrauding millions of customers by negotiating and collecting payments on their behalf and transferring funds to accounts he controlled. He was charged in a 36-count indictment in 2019 on charges including tax fraud and money transfer.
The sentencing hearing is scheduled for September 19, but, if the government decides to try him on any remaining charges, that date will likely be left blank so he can was convicted of all charges after trial. The government said it hoped to be able to notify the court of its plans by Monday.
The government estimates that the appropriate amount of compensation for victims affected in schemes involving electronic fraud is $9 million. Avenatti said he believes it is “significantly less”. The judge said that would be an issue that he would consider sending a sentencing.
Avenatti is serving a five-year prison sentence at a federal facility in California for convictions in two New York cases.
He was found guilty of stealing book proceeds from Stormy Daniels, the porn actor who catapulted him to fame as he represented her in court and cable news shows in the legal battle. hers with then-President Donald Trump. Avenatti was previously found guilty of attempting to blackmail Nike if the shoemaker did not pay him up to $25 million.
Avenatti, who is suspended from practicing law in California, rose to fame after he represented Daniels in her lawsuit to break a confidentiality agreement with Trump to keep her mother from an affair she said that they had.
He became one of Trump’s top opponents, attacking him on cable news shows and Twitter, and at one point seen as challenging him for the 2020 presidential election.
Avenatti was charged in federal cases in New York and California. He was convicted in New York and a crime was declared last year in California after a judge found prosecutors failed to provide him with key financial evidence.
Avenatti was scheduled to try some of the counts in California in July, with a trial for the rest.
Prosecutors say Avenatti collected millions of dollars in payments from clients and used the money to fund a life of luxury including a private jet instead of paying them what they were. must return.
Authorities say Avenatti collected $4 million from Los Angeles County for a man injured in prison and hemiplegic following a suicide attempt, but denied a settlement was received and paid to man much smaller amounts, from $1,000 to $1,900, he calls advances on a more widespread settlement.
In another case, prosecutors said Avenatti collected a $2.75 million payment to a customer and used most of the money to buy a private jet.
Prosecutors also accused Avenatti of failing to pay personal and business taxes and pocketing millions of dollars in payroll taxes from a coffee chain he owned.
Before being charged, Avenatti faced numerous legal issues including a hefty civil sentence and bankruptcy proceedings for his law firm.