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Disgraced attorney Avenatti found guilty of stealing from former client Stormy Daniels

Trump nemesis convicted of wire fraud, identity theft after pocketing $300k belonging to porn star.

Published: February 4, 2022 3:57pm

Updated: February 4, 2022 4:41pm

A federal jury on Friday convicted attorney Michael Avenatti of cheating former client and adult-entertainment actress Stormy Daniels out of money from a tell-all book deal about former President Trump. 

Avenatti, 50, was found guilty in a federal court in Manhattan of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft for pocketing $300,000 of Daniels' $800,000 advance for her explosive 2018 memoir, "Full Disclosure."

In the book, Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, claims she had an affair with Trump before he was president.

Prosecutors portrayed Avenatti as a thief and a liar throughout the trial.

"The defendant was a lawyer who stole from his own client," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Sobelman. "She thought he was her advocate, but he betrayed her and told lies to try to cover it all up. All to steal and spend money that was not his. The defendant is guilty."

Avenatti had pleaded not guilty and argued the evidence against him was weak. He faces a maximum of 22 years in prison for the conviction.

In one of the trial's strangest moments, Avenatti, having been abandoned by his legal team, questioned Daniels. 

Friday's verdict is the latest blow to an attorney who was once one of Trump's best known critics and frequently appeared on television.

But in 2020, Avenatti was convicted for trying to extort up to $25 million from Nike, the sports apparel giant. Last year, a federal judge sentenced Avenatti to 2 ½ years in prison for the extortion case. He is due to report to prison for that conviction later this year.

Avenatti is also awaiting a retrial in California on charges that he ripped off other clients for millions of dollars. Last year, the case resulted in a mistrial.

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