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Michael Avenatti, the once-favorite lawyer of the media has now become a near constant topic of discussion due to the legal troubles of his own. After all, his legal troubles make for some rather dramatic television, especially for the lawyers that have been watching his meteoric rise, and now fall.
After getting set up by Nike’s attorneys and the feds, he is now facing legal-career devastating allegations out of California. In short, he has been indicted for more than just mismanaging client money; included in the charges are allegations that he engaged in a nefarious operation of embezzling a client’s settlement to spend on himself, committing fraud, perjury, failing to pay taxes, commingling funds, and more.
Avenatti is facing 36 counts, including a stunning claim that he withheld a paraplegic client’s $4 million settlement. It is alleged that Avenatti, rather than pay the client, spent the money on his coffee company, as well as for other expenses. When the client asked for money, it is reported that Avenatti would send him $1,900, under the guise of it being an “advance” on the settlement that had not come in yet.
It is also alleged that Avenatti embezzled another client’s $2.5 million settlement for a private plane, which was recently seized by the authorities in connection with the case. At the Los Angeles U.S. Attorney’s press conference, Avenatti was balled out for violating “Lawyer 101: not stealing your clients’ money.”
Although the allegations, at this stage, are still just allegations, Avenatti is certainly fighting an uphill battle in the court of public opinion. Not only does he have to deal with the public’s inherent stigma about attorneys, he has certainly been vilified due to his brief foray into the political arena. And in keeping with his push into politics, he has steadfastly maintained his innocence.
Notably, this case started as an IRS investigation into Avenatti’s coffee business’s taxes in 2016, and expanded as evidence was uncovered.
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