Michael Avenatti sentenced to 4 years in prison
The lawyer was a focus of national attention representing Stormy Daniels.
Michael Avenatti was sentenced Thursday to four years in prison for defrauding Stormy Daniels, the client who made him a fixture on cable and a speculative candidate for public office for a brief time during the Trump administration.
"It has been three years since she discovered what Mr. Avenatti has done and she was devastated," Clark Brewster, Daniels' current lawyer, said.
"The regularly accepted theme was this guy was a great lawyer but ... his legal scholarship based on the cases we took over is in doubt. This was a deceitful scheme. It wasn't a mistake. It was calculated," he added.
Avenatti, in beige prison garb over a long-sleeved white T-shirt, entered court shackled at the ankles. The judge denied Avenatti's request to wear a suit to his sentencing hearing.
Avenatti was convicted of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft for stealing from Daniels, his former client, about $300,000 she was supposed to receive in connection with a book contract.
"Avenatti stole from his client. He did so to support his own business and fund his own lifestyle. He did so despite presenting himself to the world as his client's champion and defender and despite using that feigned credibility to secure fame and pursue political influence. And he did so by exploiting his position of trust and authority as an attorney, by forging his client's signature, and by lying to his client and others repeatedly and callously for months," prosecutors said in a sentencing memorandum.
The judge allowed Avenatti to serve about half of his sentence at the same time he serves prison time for a separate conviction for trying to extort millions from Nike in February 2020. He will spend an extra 2 1/2 years in prison for stealing from Daniels.
The judge said the sentence reflected the "abuse of trust" Avenatti demonstrated and a belief he could get away with it because people would believe him over Daniels due to her "unorthodox" career as an adult film actress.
Daniels was not present in court.
Avenatti briefly wept as he told the judge he will forever be known as a "disgraced lawyer."
"Lawyers have a duty to be loyal and advocates for their clients," U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement. "Far from being a loyal advocate for his client, Michael Avenatti stole his client's identity and her money in order to line his own pockets. Now, Avenatti will serve a substantial prison sentence for his brazen crimes and betrayal of his client."
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