Avenatti due to be arraigned on charges of cheating, lying
SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — Attorney Michael Avenatti is expected to be arraigned Monday on charges that he stole millions of dollars from clients, cheated on his taxes and lied to investigators. The lawyer who represented pornography actress Stormy Daniels in her legal battles against President Donald Trump is scheduled to appear in federal court in Santa Ana, California, prosecutors said.
Avenatti will be asked at the arraignment to enter a plea and a trial date will be scheduled.
He was indicted earlier this month on 36 counts, including wire and bank fraud.
Avenatti embezzled settlement funds and proceeds from other matters he handled for five clients and doled out small portions, sometimes labeling them as advances to prevent thefts from being discovered, prosecutors have said.
Avenatti, 48, has denied the charges, saying he had made powerful enemies and would plead not guilty and fight the case.
“The right to a presumption of innocence and the right to a jury trial are two fundamental rights that our founding fathers demanded when this country was formed over 200 years ago,” he said in a statement Monday.
Avenatti was arrested in March in New York on a separate case alleging he demanded millions to stay quiet about claims he planned to reveal about Nike paying high school athletes. He has denied wrongdoing in that case as well.
The charges are the latest blow to a legal career that took off when Avenatti represented Daniels in her lawsuit to break a confidentiality agreement with Trump to stay mum about an affair they allegedly had.
Avenatti became one of Trump’s leading adversaries, attacking him on cable news programs and Twitter. At one point, Avenatti considered challenging Trump in the 2020 elections.