California Prosecutors: Michael Avenatti to be Indicted on 36 Counts

Celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti arrives for his first hearing in Santa Ana federal court on bank and wire fraud charges

Michael Avenatti, the silver-tongued attorney who until last month represented adult film actress Stormy Daniels in her lawsuits against President Donald Trump, faces 36-count federal indictment on charges including wire fraud, perjury, failure to pay taxes and embezzlement.

"I am entitled to a FULL presumption of innocence and am confident that justice will be done once ALL of the facts are known", he wrote shortly after US attorney Nick Hanna summoned media to a Los Angeles news conference to announce the new charges.

Amid the news reports, Avenatti said Thursday on Twitter that he intends to plead not guilty and "fully fight" the charges against him.

The indictment came about three weeks after Avenatti, best known for representing adult film star Stormy Daniels in her legal battles with U.S. President Donald Trump, was arrested in NY on two separate criminal complaints filed by federal prosecutors in NY and California.

"It is lawyer 101", Hanna said. In California, it was alleged that Avenatti committed wire fraud and bank fraud to embezzle a client's money for the objective of paying off his own debts.

A jet co-owned by Avenatti was seized Wednesday as part of the ongoing investigation, officials said.

According to the indictment, Avenatti withheld Tully's employment taxes from the IRS, and directed employees to deposit cash receipts into an account for Avenatti's auto racing company.

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The indictments against Avenatti are for wire fraud, tax fraud, bank fraud and bankruptcy fraud.

Ryan L. Korner, the acting special agent in charge with the IRS's criminal investigation in LA said the agency's investigation of Avenatti "details a man who allegedly failed to meet his obligations to the government, stole from his clients, and used his ill-gotten gains to support his racing team, the ownership of Tully's coffee shops, and a private jet". Avenatti was also accused of using fraudulent tax returns to secure a bank loan.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Johnson is the paraplegic man whom he allegedly withheld the multimillion-dollar settlement from. But when Johnson was in escrow to purchase the property, Avenatti falsely said he had not received the settlement funds, the indictment said.

The most glaring example of deception and fraud was described in the indictment as scheming Avenatti allegedly did to deprive clients of money they were due from court settlements, legal negotiations or sales of stock and actions he took to cover his tracks.

Prosecutors also charged Avenatti with giving false testimony in a case involving the bankruptcy of his law firm Eagan Avenatti LLP. The client was also denied disability benefits in February 2019 after Avenatti failed to respond to the Social Security Administration on the client's behalf, allegedly fearing that disclosure of information the administration sought would expose Avenatti's scheme.

After Avenatti was questioned about the alleged embezzlement during a judgment-debtor examination in federal court on March 22, the indictment said he fabricated a defense for himself.

"Mr. Johnson is the victim of an appalling fraud perpetrated by the one person who owed him loyalty and honesty most of all: his own lawyer", said attorney Josh Robbins.

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