Michael Avenatti sentenced to 14 years in California fraud case

SANTA ANA, Calif. — Southern California inmate attorney Michael Avenatti was sentenced Monday to 14 years in prison and ordered to pay $7 million in restitution after admitting to defrauding four of his clients out of millions of dollars.

The sentence should run continuously on the five-year prison sentence he is currently serving for separate New York convictions, U.S. District Judge James V. Selna said at a hearing in Santa Ana, California.

Avenatti pleaded guilty to four counts of wire fraud and a tax-related charge earlier this year without reaching a plea deal with federal prosecutors. He said he wanted to be accountable and spare his family further embarrassment. He was accused of negotiating and collecting settlements on behalf of his clients and instead funneling the money into accounts he controlled.

Before sentencing, Avenatti apologized to the four victims in the case, three of whom were in court.

“I am deeply remorseful and remorseful,” Avenatti said. “There is no question that they all deserve much better, and I hope that one day they will accept my apology and find it in their hearts to forgive me.”

Prosecutor Brett Sagel told the court that Avenatti’s criminal behavior “grow from calculated choices and blatant violations of the trust” placed in him by his clients.

“He didn’t turn to his criminal actions out of desperation, out of need, out of an inability to do anything else,” Sagel said. “Despite the considerable advantages this defendant had – a first-class education, a thriving legal career – he chose time and again to commit the regrettable acts in this case.”

The government dropped all other remaining charges against Avenatti stemming from a 36 count indictment.

Avenatti is currently in jail in Southern California on two separate charges. He was convicted of stealing book proceeds from Stormy Daniels, the porn actor who made him famous when he represented her during her legal battle with then-President Donald Trump, and of extorting Nike when the cobbler didn’t pay him. $25 million.

Avenatti represented Daniels in her lawsuit to break a confidentiality agreement with Trump to remain a mother over an affair she said they had and became one of Trump’s main opponents, attacking him on cable news programs and Twitter.

In California, prosecutors said Avenatti raised $4 million from Los Angeles County for a man who sustained injuries in custody and a spinal cord injury after attempting suicide, but denied that the settlement was received and the man paid lesser amounts ranging from $ 1,000 to $1,900 he had paid. called advances on the wider settlement. In another case, prosecutors said Avenatti collected a $2.75 million settlement payment for a client and used much of the money to buy a private jet.

Prosecutors had asked that Avenatti be sentenced to an additional 17.5 years in prison on top of the five he is already serving.

Avenatti, who represented himself in the proceedings, asked for a prison sentence of no more than six years to run concurrently with the time he serves.

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