Michael Avenatti was arrested in California on Tuesday for crimes he allegedly committed while out on bail.
According to Fox News, the former lawyer for adult film actress Stormy Daniels was taken into custody by the IRS Tuesday for violating his release agreement by laundering money. The attorney has been accused of concealing assets from creditors to fund a lavish lifestyle as he awaits trial for a raft of financial crimes in Los Angeles and New York.
“Completely innocent,” Avenatti said while being led out of a courthouse, the Daily Beast reported.
Avenatti was slapped with a raft of criminal charges in New York and California last year for a host of misdeeds, which included embezzling a disabled client out of settlement money, according to NBC News. In fact, Avenatti was at a state bar hearing in Los Angeles about having his law license suspended when IRS agents unexpectedly arrested him on Tuesday, the New York Post reported.
According to documents unsealed Wednesday, Avenatti is accused of concealing his assets from creditors to avoid paying back $10 million in debts. He instead continued to live the high life in an $11,000-per-month apartment and bought a $50,000 Mercedes in his ex-wife’s name for himself and his personal driver to use, prosecutors said.
His Tuesday arrest comes as Avenatti awaits trial for three separate cases: he is accused of embezzling money from clients in California, and in New York, he faces charges of trying to extort Nike for millions of dollars. Prosecutors in California ordered Avenatti held without bail because of the likelihood that he would commit more crimes.
“Defendant’s extensive pattern of criminal conduct and the overwhelming evidence supporting those charges demonstrate that defendant is a substantial danger to the community,” prosecutors wrote in a court document. “If allowed to remain on bond, defendant will almost certainly continue to engage in further fraudulent and obstructive conduct.”
A trial thrown “into chaos”
In a third case, Avenatti is accused of cheating Daniels out of money from a book deal. Avenatti appeared in Los Angeles court Wednesday, and he will be transported to New York soon for his trial there — a trial that a federal judge said has been “thrown into chaos” after authorities said they were caught off guard by the arrest.
“The arrest of Mr. Avenatti this close to the trial has essentially thrown the trial into chaos,” U.S. District Judge Paul G. Gardephe said, according to Breitbart. “Mr. Avenatti has been on bail in the California case for a long time. So there are certainly questions in my mind about why it was necessary to raise allegations about bail violations so close to the trial and it certainly has put defense counsel in a very difficult position.”
The fall of a con man
Avenatti rose to notoriety while serving as an attorney for Daniels, whose tabloid-worthy legal battles with President Donald Trump became a notable side-show of the Russia collusion hoax in 2018. In between appearances on CNN and contemplations of running for the White House, the thuggish lawyer fought to have Daniels released from a $130,000 non-disclosure agreement, which was signed to conceal an affair she had with Trump.
The agreement was finally thrown out last year after Trump and his former attorney Michael Cohen decided not to enforce it, the New York Post reported.
For his part, Avenatti has continued to sound off on Donald Trump via Twitter, despite his byzantine legal worries. But it looks like the president is getting the last laugh.