Published: Sun, April 14, 2019
Worldwide | By Angelina Lucas

Michael Avenatti indicted for allegedly stealing paraplegic client's settlement money

Michael Avenatti indicted for allegedly stealing paraplegic client's settlement money

United States attorney Michael Avenatti has been charged in a 36-count federal indictment alleging he stole millions of dollars from clients, did not pay his taxes, committed bank fraud and lied in bankruptcy proceedings, federal prosecutors in California said yesterday.

Avenatti's alleged scam caused his client, Geoffrey Ernest Johnson, to miss two months worth of Social Security Administration disability payments earlier in 2019, according to The Los Angeles Times.

The charges in California are an expansion of criminal charges filed there last month that accused Avenatti of misappropriating $1.6 million from a client and submitting fake tax returns to a MS bank to obtain $4.1 million in loans.

The announcement comes after Avenatti appeared in a Santa Ana courtroom April 1 after being charged with filing false tax returns to secure $4 million in bank loans and withholding $1.6 million from a client. In one case, Avenatti is accused of stealing funds from a paraplegic client after he helped them win a legal settlement.

The IRS reportedly began investigating Avenatti more than a year ago, though it's also been noted that that attorney "began to run afoul of the IRS nearly a decade ago" by failing to file income tax returns.

When the IRS started garnishing the company's bank accounts, the indictment says, Avenatti ordered employees to deposit the stores' cash and credit-card receipts in new accounts under a new company name.

The indictment also charges the attorney with bankruptcy fraud charges and a perjury charge.

In a tweet, Avenatti said he intends "to fully fight all charges and plead NOT GUILTY".

Avenatti has already been charged with fraud and embezzlement in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana, California, and is charged in a separate federal complaint in NY with what prosecutors said was an attempt to "shake down" Nike Inc for more than $20 million. Cohen faces a three year prison sentence for his role in that scheme, which is still under investigation by federal prosecutors with the Southern District of NY.

Attorney Ron Hodges says Avenatti, his client, asserted his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination and didn't testify.

SpaceX Falcon Heavy sticks the landing in spectacular launch
SpaceX aims to land two of the first-stage boosters back at Cape Canaveral, just like it did for the rocket's debut past year . In the 2018 test mission, Falcon Heavy's core booster missed the vessel and crashed into the Atlantic Ocean.

The indictment accuses Avenatti of lying during his June 2017 testimony in the bankruptcy case.

"Mr. Avenatti received the money on behalf of clients and simply took the money to finance his businesses and personal expenses", Hanna said.

In another case, Avenatti won a $2.75 million settlement for a client.

His lawyer, John Littrell, said an indictment means nothing.

Avenatti responded on Twitter this morning, saying that he's made a lot of "powerful" enemies over two decades. In the NY case, Avenatti is accused of attempting to extort more than $20 million from sportswear company Nike.

Avenatti is possibly best known for representing adult film actress Stormy Daniels in lawsuits.

He falsely told Johnson the payments were "advances" on a county settlement payment that had not yet arrived, according to the grand jury.

On Thursday, Avenatti tweeted after the indictment was announced: "For 20 years, I have represented Davids vs. Goliaths and relied on due process and our system of justice".

Listen to the Guys Who Law talk about Avenatti's troubles below!

Like this: