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Attorney Michael Avenatti had 15 minutes of fame, but his infamy is going to last a lot longer.
After riding a wave of publicity around actress Stormy Daniels, Avenatti flirted with a run for the presidency. All of that disappeared, however, as he sunk into a morass of his own legal problems.
In the latest episode of Lawyers Gone Wild, Avenatti has been indicted for stealing nearly $300,000 from the former porn star. Add charges for attempting to extort $20 million from Nike, and he is looking at a long time in a men-only jail.
Avenatti grabbed the spotlight for nights and days representing Daniels, who was paid $130,000 to cover-up her affair with Donald Trump before his election to the White House. Michael Cohen, Trump's former attorney, admitted as much and is serving a three-year sentence for campaign-finance violations. Trump has denied the allegations.
Meanwhile, a judge dismissed Daniel's case against the president and ordered her to pay Trump's attorney's fees. Daniels then ended her professional relationship with Avenatti, saying he "dealt with me extremely dishonestly." Avenatti, for his part, says he will be "fully exonerated."
"I look forward to a jury hearing all of the evidence and passing judgment on my conduct," he told CNN. Prosecutors allege that he forged Daniel's signature to get money for her book about the affair with Trump.
That's just half the story of Avenatti's fall from fame. In the New York case, he allegedly demanded Nike pay him $20 million before he held a press conference to announce a basketball scandal involving the shoe company.
Coast to Coast
Unfortunately for Avenatti, he has even more legal problems with potential criminal consequences. In California, prosecutors allege he failed to pay taxes for a company he founded. The federal charges also say he commingled funds, pilfered clients' money, and committed perjury.
After all is said and done, Avenatti still has a place in history for mastering the soundbite in the raciest case involving a sitting president. On the other hand, Avenatti's next place might not be so glamorous. Time, and juries, will tell.
But as Yogi Berra said, it ain't over till it's over. Then again, Yogi Bear thought he was smarter than the average bear.
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