Disgraced attorney Michael Avenatti was convicted of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft in Manhattan federal court on Friday afternoon, adding to the legal woes of the former progressive cable news star.
Avenatti was convicted of stealing from Stormy Daniels, an adult film performer who became the belligerent lawyer’s most significant client. Daniels had sued former President Donald Trump for defamation, alleging she’d had an affair with him years before he entered politics when he was still a reality television star.
Prosecutors accused Avenatti of stealing $300,000 from the advance to Daniels for her book about her relationship with Trump.
Avenatti had told Daniels’ literary agent to send him the money from her $800,000 advance without her knowledge or consent, according to the lawsuit.
Daniels’ relationship with Avenatti reportedly collapsed after she learned of his theft.
The verdicts represent Avenatti’s second and third felony convictions. The lawyer, who had been hyped as a potential Democratic presidential candidate before his downfall, was convicted of extorting Nike in February of 2020.
Avenatti has yet to begin serving a 30-month federal prison sentence for his Nike conviction, remaining on house arrest at a friend’s residence in California as he fights ongoing legal battles.
The disbarred lawyer represented himself in the fraud case, following a disagreement with his legal team before the trial.
In trial arguments, he tried to discredit Daniels by citing her involvement in a paranormal talk show, questioning her sanity, Politico reported.
A jury returned the guilty verdicts after earlier indicating to Judge Jesse Furman that they were deadlocked, describing one juror as refusing to consider the evidence of the case.
Avenatti could receive as many as 22 years in federal prison for his latest convictions, although it’s more likely he’ll receive a sentence similar in length to the one he’s already slated to serve.
The disgraced political pit bull is currently suing the federal government over jail conditions in New York’s Metropolitan Correctional Center.
Avenatti is claiming damages of $94 million, arguing that former Attorney General Bill Barr conspired to detain him in inhumane conditions.
Parole is uncommon in the federal prison system, making it all but certain that Avenatti will spend several years in prison.
Avenatti had broken down in tears during a sentencing hearing for his Nike extortion conviction, admitting that his cable news fame amounted to nothing and that he had destroyed his own career through greed and dishonesty.
Daniels’ former attorney also faces a civil suit from his most notable client, who seeks to recoup the money he stole from her book advance.
The self-proclaimed “fighter” faces yet another tax and bank fraud trial in California, in which he’s accused of stealing from and lying to former clients.