The disgraced lawyer is Michael Avenatti He was sentenced to 14 years in prison on Monday He was also ordered to pay nearly $11 million in restitution for defrauding millions of dollars from four of his clients.
Avenatti pleaded guilty earlier this year Four counts of wire fraud and one count of attempting to obstruct the Administration of the Internal Revenue Code for each client he stole from. Prosecutors said he blocked the IRS’s attempt to collect $5 million in unpaid payroll taxes for Tullis Coffee.
The sentence handed down by Federal District Judge James Selna will begin after Avenatti completes the five-year prison sentence he is currently serving after being convicted in two separate trials in New York.
Celna ordered Avenatti to pay more than $10 million to four clients and the IRS.
“Michael Avenatti was a corrupt attorney who said he was fighting for the little guy. In reality, he was only concerned with his own selfish interests,” U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada said in a statement following the sentencing. “He stole millions of dollars from his clients — all on a private jet and race. To fund his lavish lifestyle that included cars. As a result of his illegal actions, he has lost his right to practice law in California and will now serve a well-deserved prison sentence.
Avenatti’s attorney, Dean Stewart, said in a statement to CNN that the sentence was “extremely harsh and uncalled for,” and his client described it in court as “out of the ordinary.”
“When compared to similar high-profile cases, the injustice is glaring,” Stewart said.
Monday’s sentencing represents the latest chapter in an unusually long legal drama surrounding Avenatti, whose representation of adult film star Stormy Daniels, who accused him of having an affair with former President Donald Trump years before he ran for office, made him a bad lawyer. Household Name
“Avenatti’s fraud is egregious, and clearly indicates the court is sending a strong message. But a sentence of 14 years is extraordinarily long under all the circumstances,” said CNN senior legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Eli Honig.
Avenatti was given the prison sentence he is currently serving after being found guilty of trying to extort millions of dollars from Nike and stealing nearly $300,000 in book advances from his then-client Daniels. (Trump has denied having an affair with Daniels.)
Avenatti faces a maximum sentence of 83 years in prison in the California case.
Earlier this year, The Justice Department dropped the remaining 31 fraud counts Avenatti faces a handful of charges after agreeing to plead guilty. Federal prosecutors said in court filings at the time that they would not move forward with the remaining 31 wire fraud, bank fraud and tax-related charges because a judge could consider those charges when Avenatti is ultimately sentenced.
Avenatti pleaded guilty earlier this year to stealing millions of dollars from clients, including $4 million from a client with major disabilities. According to the indictment, after Avenatti negotiated settlements requiring clients to pay, he would lie to clients about the terms of the settlements and instead deposit the money into attorney trust accounts he controlled. According to the indictment, he would embezzle and misappropriate the funds, and to prevent discovery of his scheme, he would tell clients he had yet to pay the settlement amount.
This story has been updated with additional details.