Inside Michael Avenatti’s Wild Self-Defense on Embezzlement Charges

SANTA ANA, California – Wednesday morning, Michael Avenatti entered the federal courthouse next to the lawyers and was prosecuted allegedly embezzled millions from the town’s revenue out of his own hands customers.

Pechutob: Despite the presence of his legal eagles, the infamous lawyer represented himself and put his brand name on a solid display.

Three years ago, Avenatti was in the habit of winning hearts and minds when staring at his star client, porn star Stormy Daniels in his subconscious lawsuit against former President Trump.

Now, the 50-year-old explained to a Fox News cameraman who asked why the lawyer-already convicted of extortion in New York – presented his choice. “I’m in favor of it because I want the truth to be known,” he said.

Inside the courtroom, Avenatti broke up a familiar line to the jury, which he had previously used to defend himself, saying that David was fighting Goliath, the boy’s fighter, and never “intended to steal any client from any money or to deceive. ”

“This case is about math,” Avenatti said during the opening statement of the trial. “It’s about how you calculate the customer’s bill after receiving the bill.”

But U.S. attorney’s assistant Brett Sagel said five clients of Avenatti, including a paraplegic man, asked for help to find out that he had put the settlement money in his pocket and in some cases lied about getting the money.

“Each of their cases was different, but they all had confidence in Michael Avenatti,” Sagel said before telling the jury before he could apply to him for a lawsuit. “They trusted the defendant completely. Defendant violated their trust. The accused stole their money. ”

Thus began Avenatti’s second federal trial after his bizarre fall from grace, as the high-profile plaintiff represented Daniels – a high-octane method that turned Newport Beach’s brilliant lawyer into a family name.

Federal prosecutors of the two coasts arrested Avenatti in the spring of 2019 on three separate charges.

“Ladies and gentlemen, for more than 20 years, I have also represented the United States.”

– Michael Avenatti

Earlier this month, he was sentenced to 2.5 years in jail for designing a giant Nike sports car for millions of dollars. He was convicted in February 2020 of extortion, wire fraud and transfer of interstate communications with the purpose of extortion, but his sentence was delayed by the COVID pandemic. In the Nike case was one of Avenatti’s two indictments in New York; he will also go on trial in 2022 on charges of stealing $ 300,000 in advance for Daniels ’book. (He denies the allegations.)

In California, Avenatti was embroiled in a series of brutal lawsuits: a 36-count indictment in which he was charged with fraud in connection with the misappropriation of millions of customers ’funds, as well as bank fraud, bankruptcy fraud and tax-related crimes. The trial focused on only 10 fraud-related cases, while other charges will be heard later this year. He pleaded not guilty.

Ahead of his opening remarks on Wednesday, Sagel complained to U.S. District Judge James Selna that taxpayers were funding a group of reserve attorneys – attorneys next to him for Avenatti while defending him at trial.

But when Sagel approached the jury, she turned her attention to the alleged damage inflicted on Avenatti by five clients who trusted her – from Jeffrey Johnson, a paraplegic man who accused Avenatti of stealing nearly $ 4 million.


Attorney Courtney Cummings Sefali, Michael Avenatti and attorney H.J. Dean Steward

Megann Kuniff

Avenatti represented Johnson in a lawsuit against the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office after he attempted suicide, paralyzed him and negotiated a $ 4 million deal.

As shown in FIG The Daily Beast reported, police took Johnson during a 2011 mental health episode and transferred him from hospital to jail. Despite warnings from his family, prison officials did not throw Johnson into a suicide watch and he tried to hang himself, which led to his permanent disability.

But Johnson never saw this town. According to prosecutors, Avenatti paid a total of $ 124,000 to Johnson after transferring the funds to the accounts transferred to Avenatti and his coffee shop chain.

Avenate Coffee bought the now-defunct Tully’s Coffee in 2014, and over the years, the company has raised nearly $ 5 million. The chain was shut down in 2018 following allegations of non-payment of trademark fees and sales leases.

Avenatti “stole the entire amount of Jeffrey Johnson’s check,” Sagel told the jury. “You’ll find out that Geoff Johnson was the first client of the defendant to be accused of stealing their settlement money.”

“The defendant never even told Jeffrey Johnson that the resolution of the case was final,” Sagel added, as Avenatti sat behind the defense table, wearing a black mask, watching the prosecutor closely.

When Johnson wanted to make an affordable home available for the disabled, Sagel added, Avenatti allegedly told him he could buy it by paying with a bill, even though the money was long overdue.

“Jeffrey Johnson never had a home and the defendant continued to lie to him,” Sagel said.

The indictment alleges that Avenatti failed to pay customers with a claim for payment of wages, or “calmed” them out of future income for reasons that seemed to be legally delayed and sent to them in advance. In this case, prosecutors say, Avenatti kept the money in accounts related to his personal business.

In January 2017, Avenatti secured $ 3 million for the person the indictment referred to as “Subscriber 2,” then allegedly falsely claiming that the individual would pay the amount within eight years. The actual deal, which Avenatti did not disclose, according to prosecutors, requires the person to pay $ 2.7 million in advance.

“Client 2” is being presented today by prosecutors to Alexis Gardner, the girlfriend of former NBA player Hassan Whiteside, who was with the Miami Heat at the time. In the Los Angeles Times previously reported that Gardner was the actress who recruited Avenati for $ 3 million in negotiations for a possible lawsuit against Whiteside.

A few weeks later, Avenatti allegedly transferred $ 2.5 million of that payment to the account of another law firm. The same day, prosecutors say Avenatti then transferred the money to Honda Aircraft Company to buy a private jet for his company, the Passport 420.

Prosecutors say Avenatti made 11 payments to Gardner from March 2017 to June 2018 totaling $ 194,000 when he falsely claimed that the settlement person had lost possible parts of the month.

Sagel recounted how Avenatti allegedly lied to Gardner for years, telling him that Whiteside had neglected to pay the bill and that he had exchanged texts between Avenatti and Gardner in the courtroom, showing that he had updated the funds.

“Hi Michael, I’m just registering. I haven’t received my deposit yet,” Gardner wrote in a text that Avenatti replied, “It’s difficult,” and said he would investigate the matter. Avenatti promised in another message what would happen with this money.

On Wednesday, Sagel pre-examined other charges against Avenatti as part of the indictment.

When Client 3 received a $ 1.9 million payment from a company in December 2017, Avenatti allegedly offered him an amended agreement that showed the payment date incorrectly. And when Avenatti received the initial $ 1.6 million from the company, he allegedly said nothing to the client, which was later introduced by his new lawyer, Gregory Barela.

Barela arrived in January 2019 with an arbitration claim, claimed that Avenatti was working on a new Newport Beach company like the “Ponzi plan” to “get settlement funds taken out for customers to pay off debts” and use the money to “lead his own luxurious lifestyle”.

According to the indictment, Avenatti used Barela to pay $ 1.59 million to pay for his coffee chain.

However, during 2018, Avenatti allegedly lied to Barela and said the company had never paid. The lawyer then paid Barela $ 130,000, which they called an “advance” because they expected Avenatti not to sue, prosecutors said.

Meanwhile, individuals identified as “Customers 4 and 5” hired Avenatti to help them distribute shares in a company in September 2017, which resulted in more than $ 35 million worth of shares being sold. (The Daily Beast had previously revealed that these customers seem to be high-profile beauty vlogger Michelle Fan and her business partner Long Tran.)

In March 2018, prosecutors say Avenatti withheld $ 8.14 million in payments from Phan’s account and used some of the money to pay off his debts to the Internal Revenue Service and transfer others to accounts related to his companies. Avenatti is also accused of using part of Fan’s money to make increased payments to Johnson and Gardner.

Avenatti allegedly took Fan’s money when he was raped as Daniels’ mouth. He quickly became the #Resistance hero for his TV shows, clashed with Trump’s loyal reformer Michael Cohen, and promised to fire the president in the Daniels case.

At one point, Avenatti introduced himself as a candidate for the Democratic presidency. But in November 2018, cracks appeared in the façade of the network’s favorite. Daniels told the Daily Beast that he had sued Trump for libel against his wishes and also denied him an account of the money collected on crowded sites for his legal actions.

However, in his opening statement on Wednesday, Avenatti said he was adamant that he was up for the small number of customers who will soon testify against him in Santa Ana.

“A few days ago, Mr. Sagel and Mr. [Alexander] Weiman introduced himself to you and they told you that they represented the United States, ”Avenatti began. “Ladies and gentlemen, for more than 20 years, I have also represented the United States, and I have done this as a citizen at the same time.

“I have not committed any crime and I have never intended to steal or defraud any customer. Not last week. Not last month. Not last year. Never. I made a vow that I was not guilty. ” Thunderstorm Avenatti rose.

Avenatti told the jury that Johnson lives in a care center and that Aventati’s company pays for his medical care. He stated that Gardner was homeless and his company had guaranteed that he had a place to stay. “We took money out of our pockets to help them in their lives and cases,” Avenatti said of his clients.

Avenatti later added, “We represented David against the Goliaths.” “We have done this across the country, and the evidence shows that we have blessed this work very well. We gave people who had no chance a chance to fight. We did this by clarifying what I am doing now, but on a civilian basis. In civil cases. ”

The lawyer then accused federal prosecutors when he was accused of reimbursing clients’ funds: “Evidence shows that despite this work for more than two years, despite all federal government sources and agents, they still do not have the correct numbers. This is not added. ”

“We show it’s smoke and a mirror,” Avenatti said. | Inside Michael Avenatti’s Wild Self-Defense on Embezzlement Charges


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