Michael Avenatti, the attorney who rocketed to fame through his representation of U.S. porn star Stormy Daniels in her battles with President Donald Trump, was charged on Wednesday, May 22, with stealing from her.
Federal prosecutors in New York City said Avenatti used a doctored document to divert about $300,000 that Daniels was supposed to get from a book deal, then used the money for personal and business expenses.
Only half of that money was paid back, prosecutors said.
Daniels isn’t named in the court filing but the details of the case, including the date her book was released make it clear that she is the client involved.
Avenatti denied the allegations on Twitter, where he wrote, “No monies relating to Ms. Daniels were ever misappropriated or mishandled. She received millions of dollars worth of legal services and we spent huge sums in expenses. She directly paid only $100.00 for all that she received. I look forward to a jury hearing the evidence,” he wrote.
Avenatti added in a later tweet that his agreement for representing Daniels “included a percentage of any book proceeds.” Whether that percentage was 50 percent remains to be seen.
The charges pile on top of previous allegations of legal misconduct by Avenatti, including embezzlement and accusations by a prior law partner of hiding millions in legal fees from creditors during bankruptcy proceedings, among others. Avenatti was also arrested on a felony domestic violence charge.
Avenatti had a period of fame while confronting President Trump in legal undertakings and appeared almost nightly on mainstream media programs that were regularly broadcasting the controversial story.
Since the revelations of multiple instances of legal and other misconduct and particularly since the legal battles against President Trump did not receive their desired outcomes, Avenatti has been seen infrequently on mainstream media programs.