Texas residents who watch the news likely became familiar with Michael Avenatti in March 2018 when he filed a lawsuit against President Trump over his alleged affair with Stormy Daniels. The forceful litigator quickly became a household name and was even said to be mulling a run for the White House of his own, but those days may have seemed like a long time ago on April 29 when Avenatti appeared in a federal court in Los Angeles charged with multiple counts of embezzlement, bank fraud and wire fraud.
Avenatti pleaded not guilty on all counts as he had vowed to do on social media just days before, but legal analysts think that he will find a federal jury much harder to convince than his legion of loyal Twitter followers. The U.S. attorneys who built the case against Avenatti say that he bilked his clients out of millions of dollars to pay for lavish apartments, luxury sports cars and a $5 million private jet.
The federal crimes Avenatti is alleged to have committed are numerous and serious. In addition to the embezzlement and fraud charges he faces in California, the 48-year-old lawyer has been indicted by U.S. attorneys in New York for allegedly attempting to extort in excess of $20 million from the sportswear manufacturer Nike.
Many federal criminal cases are settled by plea agreements, and defense lawyers and U.S. attorneys may prefer that these negotiations be conducted well away from the media spotlight. While it can be difficult for public figures to maintain low profiles in these situations, it may be prudent for them to limit their media exposure as much as possible. This is because using social media or the press to draw public attention might make plea discussions more difficult.Source: CNBC, Celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti says he will plead not guilty to federal fraud charges in California, Kevin Breuninger, April 29, 2019