Ayyyeee… What’s Goodie Everyone. So I have some tea and it involves former attorney Michael Avenatti and porn star Stormy Daniels.
Jurors convicted former attorney Michael Avenatti of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, agreeing with accusations that he used a bogus letter to trick porn star and former friend Stormy Daniels’s literary agent into sending him almost $300,000 in publisher’s payments meant for her.
Jurors indicated twice during deliberations that they were struggling to reach agreement. Early Thursday, only about four hours after they began to deliberate, they sent a note to the judge, Jesse Furman, saying they could not reach a consensus on the wire fraud charge. He encouraged them to keep trying. Friday morning, the jury said in a note that one panel member was refusing to “look at” evidence and was “acting on a feeling.” Judge Furman again told the jurors to continue deliberating, directing them “not be swayed by sympathy or emotion.” Their verdict came soon after.
The conviction, in Federal District Court, is the latest blow to Mr. Avenatti, a brash California lawyer who became well known while representing Ms. Daniels, appearing regularly on television and hurling gibes at Trump on Twitter because for a time, Daniels and Avenatti were stars in what was sometimes called “the resistance” to Trump’s presidency and policies. Some people believed the two could bring down Trump, who denied Daniels’s allegations.
Seizing on her renown fame Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, signed an $800,000 contract to write a book, “Full Disclosure,” for St. Martin’s Press. Avenatti flirted briefly with the idea of running for president. But their alliance dissolved amid acrimony in early 2019 after Daniels accused Avenatti of stealing.
Since then, Avenatti has been a criminal defendant in several cases. He was convicted in 2020 of trying to extort millions of dollars from Nike. A lawyer representing him in that case later filed a notice of appeal. In a separate case, Avenatti was accused of stealing millions of dollars from five clients, including a paraplegic man who won a $4 million settlement from Los Angeles County, and of lying about his business and income. That case was mistrial last year after a judge ruled that prosecutors had withheld financial data from the defense. If the outcome led Avenatti to believe he could salvage his reputation as a populist lawyer who helped underdogs, his conviction in the case involving Daniels would appear to all but end that prospect.
“I am very disappointed in the jury’s verdict,” Avenatti said as he left the courthouse. “I look forward to a full adjudication of all of the issues on appeal.”