A grand jury has indicted attorney Michael Avenatti on 36 federal counts, and he's potentially looking at life in prison.
Prosecutors on Thursday said Avenatti, the lawyer who represented Stormy Daniels in her lawsuit against President Trump, had been hit with these charges in connected to alleged wire, tax, bank, and bankruptcy fraud.
Avenatti allegedly stole millions of dollars from five clients, including a paraplegic man, said U.S. Attorney Nicola Hanna. Prosecutors said Avenatti would receive money from clients and use it to "finance his business and his personal expenses," in one case including a private jet.
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Hanna also said Avenatti submitted "clearly fake" income tax form to receive a loan. And he allegedly filed documents in bankruptcy court that "fraudulently understated" the amount of money his bankrupt law firm was receiving. Ryan Korner, the special agent in charge of the IRS criminal investigation in Los Angeles, added that Avenatti has not filed a personal income tax return since 2010 and took steps to "obstruct and impede" IRS efforts to collect payroll taxes his coffee company owed.
If convicted of the 36 counts, Hanna said Avenatti faces a maximum sentence of 333 years in prison, plus another two-year mandatory consecutive sentence for aggravated identity theft.
Avenatti, who last month was arrested for allegedly trying to extort Nike while at the same time facing charges over alleged fraud, said on Thursday that he will plead not guilty and that he looks "forward to the entire truth being known as opposed to a one-sided version meant to sideline me."
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