Attorney Michael Avenatti sentenced to four years in prison for swindling client Stormy Daniels

Avenatti was for a time an anti-Trump cable news fixture during the former president's administration.

Updated: June 2, 2022 - 4:10pm

Attorney Michael Avenatti was sentenced Thursday to four years in prison for defrauding ex-porn star Stormy Daniels, a former client whose legal wrangling with then-President Trump briefly made Avenatti a cable news celebrity for bashing Trump.

The disgraced lawyer was convicted of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft for stealing about $300,000 from Daniels that she was owed in connection with her 2018 tell-all book in which she dishes about her alleged relationship with Trump before he became president.

"It has been three years since she discovered what Mr. Avenatti has done, and she was devastated," current Daniels lawyer Clark Brewster said Thursday. "The regularly accepted theme was this guy was a great lawyer but ... his legal scholarship based on the cases we took over is in doubt. This was a deceitful scheme. It wasn't a mistake. It was calculated."

Avenatti appeared in the New York City court in beige prison garb after being denied his request to wear a suit to his sentencing hearing. He was already in prison for having been found guilty in 2020 of trying to extort as much as $25 million from Nike by threatening the company with bad publicity. He was sentenced last summer to 2 1/2 years in prison for that crime.

Avenatti will serve the first 2 1/2 years of the Daniels sentence concurrently with the Nike sentence, then serve the remainder of the Daniels' sentence, which the judge says reflects an "abuse of trust."

Avenatti "stole from his client," prosecutors said Thursday in a sentencing memorandum. "He did so to support his own business and fund his own lifestyle. He did so despite presenting himself to the world as his client's champion and defender and despite using that feigned credibility to secure fame and pursue political influence.

"And he did so by exploiting his position of trust and authority as an attorney, by forging his client's signature, and by lying to his client and others repeatedly and callously for months."

Avenatti cried for a moment during sentencing as he told the judge he will forever be known as a "disgraced lawyer."