The 61-page indictment, disclosed by prosecutors on Thursday, outlines years of alleged deception and an array of false statements to both federal and bank officials by a man who, over the course of the past year, has become one of the highest profile attorneys in the country.
Michael Avenatti, the combative lawyer known for his battles with U.S. President Donald Trump, was indicted on charges of defrauding clients, including allegations that he withheld a multimillion-dollar settlement he won for a paraplegic man, prosecutors said on Thursday.
U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna said during a press conference on April 11 that the alleged crimes-which fall under wire fraud, tax fraud, bank fraud, and bankruptcy fraud-were all linked to one another because "money generated from one set of crimes was used to further other crimes, typically in the form of payments created to string along victims so as to prevent Mr. Avenatti's financial house of cards from collapsing".
Federal agents seized the Honda HA-420 jet at Santa Barbara Airport on Wednesday under a court-approved warrant that remains under seal, said Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the us attorney's office in Los Angeles.
Prosecutors say Avenatti misled clients and misused their funds to pay personal and legal expenses, finance a coffee shop business he also ran, and pay for his share of a Honda private jet, according to the indictment. He would then embezzle and misappropriate those funds, according to the indictment, and to prevent discovery of his scheme, would tell clients the settlement proceeds hadn't yet been paid, among other tactics.
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Smith-Schuster winning the Steelers' most valuable player award, as voted on by teammates, seemed to make matters worse. He showed support for his fellow wide receiver from the Pro Bowl but made clear he wouldn't be involved.
"Avenatti stole millions of dollars from five clients and used a tangled web of shell companies and bank accounts to cover up the theft, the Santa Ana grand jury alleged in an indictment that prosecutors will make public Thursday", the Times reported.
The indictments include the two charges filed against him in March, including allegations that Avenatti submitted fake financial information to a MS bank in order to get three loans worth $4.1 million. He also allegedly undermined his paraplegic client's attempt to buy a house and jeopardized his Social Security payments by failing to file paperwork. Avenatti told his client that these payments were "advances" on the settlement. "I am entitled to a FULL presumption of innocence and am confident that justice will be done once ALL of the facts are known", he said.
He also labeled any claims that he mishandled client money as "bogus nonsense".
Avenatti's two law firms are Eagan Avenatti and Avenatti & Associates. He responded "no" when he was asked whether Eagan Avenatti had received legal fees when it was representing ticket holders who sued the National Football League over seating snafus at the 2011 Super Bowl in Texas.
The charges are the latest major blow to a career that took off past year when Avenatti represented Daniels in her lawsuit to break a confidentiality agreement with Trump to stay mum about an affair they allegedly had.
Avenatti was also charged with submitting fraudulent tax returns to get more than $4 million in loans from The Peoples Bank in Biloxi, Mississippi, in 2014.