Attorney Michael Avenatti was charged with wire and bank fraud in connection with using his client's money to pay his own personal expenses, including operations for his coffee business, according to the US Attorney's office in Los Angeles.
Here are the allegations against Avenatti, according to federal prosecutors:
- He allegedly embezzled his client's money to pay his debt and expenses.
- Avenatti also used the funds to pay expenses at his coffee business, Global Baristas US LLC, which prosecutors said operates Tully’s Coffee stores in California and Washington.
- The 48-year-old attorney also used bogus tax returns to obtain millions of dollars in loans and defrauded a bank, prosecutors said.
Stormy Daniels has tweeted out a statement in response to the news that Michael Avenatti was arrested this morning and charged in separate cases in New York and California.
In the statement, Daniels, who up until recently was represented by Avenatti, said she was "saddened, but not shocked."
See the tweet:
Federal prosecutors in California will announce more details about the charges against Michael Avenatti at a 2 p.m. ET news conference in Los Angeles.
He is facing wire and bank fraud charges, the US attorney's office said. This is separate from charges he faces in New York for attempting to extort more than $20 million from Nike.
Attorney Michael Avenatti was arrested this morning and charged with attempting to extort more than $20 million from Nike, according to the Manhattan US Attorney’s office.
He also faces wire and bank fraud charges in California, according to the US attorney's office.
Here's what we know about Avenatti:
- Until recently, Avenatti represented adult-film actress Stormy Daniels, a central figure in the hush-money scandal that resulted in Manhattan federal prosecutors charging President Trump's former personal attorney, Michael Cohen. Cohen pleaded guilty and is set to report to prison in May.
- He was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence against his now former girlfriend in November. He denied the allegations.
- In December, he announced that he will not run for president in 2020 — ending months of speculation about his potential interest in a White House bid.
Attorney Michael Avenatti was arrested Monday morning in Manhattan, law enforcement officials tell CNN.
He will appear in court later this afternoon. A time has not been given yet.
Michael Avenatti's charges in New York stem from a threat he made to Nike. According to the criminal complaint, Avenatti said he had evidence that one or more employees of the company "had authorized and funded payments to the families of top high school basketball players and/or their families and attempted to conceal the payments."
According to the complaint, Avenatti demanded that Nike pay his client $1.5 million because Nike was not renewing his client's contract and that Nike hired Avenatti to conduct an internal investigation. Avenatti's client is not named in the complaint.
"I'm not f***ing around with this," Avenatti said, according to the complaint. "And I'm not continuing to play games. You guys know enough now to know you've got a serious problem and it's worth more in exposure to me to just blow the lid on this thing."
Notably, earlier on Monday, Avenatti tweeted that he would be holding a press conference Tuesday announcing a Nike scandal that he had uncovered.
Shortly after, these charges were announced. Avenatti is also facing separate charges from federal prosecutors in California.
Federal prosecutors in Los Angeles will also announce charges of wire fraud and bank fraud against attorney Michael Avenatti today.
These charges are separate from the charges in the Manhattan US attorney's office that were announced at roughly the same time, a source told CNN.
The Manhattan US Attorney's office said Monday that it is charging attorney Michael Avenatti "for attempting to extract more than $20 million in payments from a publicly traded company by threatening to use his ability to garner publicity to inflict substantial financial and reputational harm on the company if his demands were not met."