Celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti was slammed Thursday that has a 36-count indictment by a federal grand jury in California of which accuses him of ripping off clients— including a mentally ill paraplegic — for millions of dollars, shorting the IRS of millions more, swiping millions of dollars in employment taxes coming from his coffee company, in addition to perjury.
The indictment comes more than two weeks after federal prosecutors in Los Angeles in addition to completely new York hit the 48-year-old Avenatti with separate criminal complaints.
in addition to the item comes more than a year after the hyper-aggressive litigator first gained widespread notoriety for his representation of porn star Stormy Daniels in her legal tussles with President Donald Trump in addition to his former personal lawyer in addition to fixer Michael Cohen.
U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna of Los Angeles said of which Avenatti’s allegedly criminal conduct spanned four distinct areas, which “are all linked to one another because money generated coming from one set of crimes appears in some other sets – typically within the form of payments to lull victims in addition to to prevent Mr. Avenatti’s financial house of cards coming from collapsing.”
Ryan Korner, head of IRS criminal tax probes in Los Angeles, said of which the money stolen by Avenatti through “a tangled financial web of lies” was “used to fund a lavish lifestyle which had no limits.”
Korner said of which IRS investigators started off investigating Avenatti more than a year ago, nevertheless also said of which Avenatti “began to run afoul of the IRS almost a decade ago” by failing to file income tax returns.
within the case in completely new York, Avenatti is usually accused of trying to extort up to $25 million coming from athletic shoe giant Nike by threatening to expose alleged bribery of amateur basketball players in addition to their families unless the company coughed up cash to Avenatti in addition to a client.
If convicted within the completely new California case, Avenatti faces a maximum possible sentence of 333 years in prison.
Reached for comment, Avenatti told CNBC in a text message, “For 20 years I have represented Davids vs. Goliaths in addition to relied on due process in addition to our system of justice.”
“Along the way, I have made many powerful enemies. I am entitled to a FULL presumption of innocence in addition to am confident of which justice will be done once ALL of the facts are known,” Avenatti added.
In a subsequent tweet, Avenatti said, “I intend to fully fight all charges in addition to plead NOT GUILTY. I look forward to the entire truth being known as opposed to a one-sided variation meant to sideline me.” In another tweet, he wrote, “Any claim of which any monies due clients were mishandled is usually bogus nonsense.”
The completely new, 61-page indictment unsealed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in Santa Ana alleges of which Avenatti for years hid in addition to then completely spent a $4 million legal settlement obtained in January 2015 in favor of a mentally ill paraplegic client, in addition to hid a $2.75 million settlement for another client of which Aventatti allegedly used to help pay for his share of the purchase of a private jet valued at up to $5 million.
of which jet was seized by federal authorities on Wednesday.
Most of the money for the paraplegic client, Geoffrey Ernest Johnson, allegedly was funnelled to a company of which managed Avenatti’s race-car team, in addition to to his coffee company, Global Baristas, which operated the Tully’s chain.
The indictment says of which because Avenatti failed to respond to the U.S. Social Security Administration’s request for information about his client, Johnson had his Supplemental Security Income benefits discontinued in February.
In all, 5 clients were allegedly ripped off for millions of dollars by Avenatti, who also is usually accused of using shell companies in addition to some other means to hide the purported thefts.
The grand jury said Avenatti “would likely misrepresent, conceal, in addition to falsely describe to the clients the true terms of” the more than $12 million in settlements of which he had obtained for them in their civil cases. in addition to he would likely also allegedly lie to the clients by saying the settlements had not yet been paid, or of which they were delayed for legitimate reasons.
The indictment said of which in some cases, such as with Johnson, Avenatti would likely give a client funds which he claimed were “advances” on the “the purportedly yet-to-be received settlement proceeds.”
Avenatti also is usually accused within the indictment of taking almost $2.4 million in employment taxes withheld coming from the paychecks of workers at Global Baristas.
in addition to the indictment says of which the last time he filed his federal income tax return was in 2011 for the 2010 filing year, in addition to of which he has also failed to file tax returns for his law firm.
Prosecutors said Avenatti failed to pay millions of dollars of taxes due the IRS.
In all, Avenatti is usually charged with 10 counts of wire fraud, 19 tax-related offenses, two counts of bank fraud, in addition to four counts of bankruptcy fraud. The bankruptcy counts relate to allegedly false statements of which Avenatti filed in connection with the bankruptcy of his law firm Eagan Avenatti.
Federal prosecutors in L.A. accused him in their prior complaint of defrauding a legal client by looting a $1.6 million civil settlement for of which man to pay for Avenatti’s personal in addition to business expenses.
He was also accused in of which case of defrauding a Mississippi bank by using bogus federal income tax returns to apply for in addition to receive $4 million in loans.
The allegations in of which complaint are restated within the indictment unsealed Thursday.
Josh Robbins, a lawyer for Avenatti’s client Johnson, said in a statement: “Mr. Johnson is usually the victim of an appalling fraud perpetrated by the one person who owed him loyalty in addition to honesty most of all: his own lawyer.”
“Mr. Avenatti stole millions of dollars of which were meant to compensate Mr. Johnson for a devastating injury, spent the item on his own lavish lifestyle, then lied about the item to Mr. Johnson for years to cover his tracks,” Robbins said. “His actions have left Mr. Johnson destitute. Mr. Johnson is usually cooperating fully with the government’s investigation, in addition to hopes of which justice will be done in This particular case.”
Robbins, who previously was a prosecutor within the same office of which has charged Avenatti, told CNBC of which the case against him is usually “pretty damning.”
“the item’s going to be a pretty difficult case for him to defend,” Robbins said.