Stormy Daniels former lawyer Michael Avenatti has had a string of problems with the law including being indicted for trying to extort money from Nike and arrested on domestic violence charges.
Now, he's charged with stealing $300,000 from the former client who made him famous: Stormy Daniels.
Avenatti was charged by federal prosecutors in New York for defrauding Daniels. The 48-year-old lawyer is charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft, reported Fox.
If he's convicted, the sentence won't be easy to serve. He faces up to 22 years in prison. While Daniels was not named in the indictment, federal law enforcement confirmed to Fox that she is the defrauded client.
This has been part of a steep decline for Avenatti. He rocketed to fame with Daniels when she accused President Trump of an extramarital relationship. He even suggested that he would run for president in 2020.
Fox reported the situation with Daniels: "According to prosecutors, Avenatti stole 'a significant portion' of an advance Daniels was supposed to receive from a book deal in the summer of 2018 by sending a doctored letter with Daniels' signature to her literary agent that instructed the agent to divert the money to an account controlled by Avenatti."
The lawyer then spent the money, which was $148,750, "on airfare, hotels, car services, restaurants and meal delivery, online retailers, payroll for his law firm and another business he owned, and insurance."
When Daniels asked Avenatti why she hadn't received the money, he claimed that he was still trying to get the money from the publisher. He then allegedly "used funds recently received from another source" to pay Daniels the money she was owed.
"Michael Avenatti abused and violated the core duty of an attorney – the duty to his client," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said in a statement. "As alleged, he used his position of trust to steal an advance on the client’s book deal. As alleged, he blatantly lied to and stole from his client to maintain his extravagant lifestyle, including to pay for, among other things, a monthly car payment on a Ferrari. Far from zealously representing his client, Avenatti, as alleged, instead engaged in outright deception and theft, victimizing rather than advocating for his client."
Prosecutors on Wednesday also formally indicted Avenatti on charges that he tried to extort up to $25 million from Nike. He threatened to expose claims that the shoemaker paid off high school basketball players to steer them to Nike-sponsored colleges. He's also facing charges that he stole money from other clients and didn't pay taxes.