Michael Avenatti’s embezzlement case is dismissed and gets new dates
Michael Avenatti’s trial on charges of embezzling millions of money from settling unsuspecting customers was abruptly halted Tuesday when a California federal judge declared the trial overturned over evidence.
U.S. District Judge James Selna said prosecutors failed to provide any potentially exculpatory evidence to Avenatti, who is representing himself, making the wire fraud trial that started over a month ago too imperfect to continue.
The evidence involved the accounting software used by Avenatti’s company to manage expenses, according to Law360.
Selna, who said there was no reason to believe prosecutors had willfully committed an offense, set a new hearing in the case for September 2 and a new tentative trial date for October 12.
The customer theft case is based on allegations that Avenatti, 50, defrauded five customers out of nearly $ 10 million at a time when he was buying a private plane and battling growing financial woes.
In one of the client cases, Avenatti allegedly collected a lump sum of $ 4 million from Los Angeles County on behalf of a man who was injured in prison and became paraplegic. Prosecutors say Avenatti lied to the client about the large payment and only paid him a pittance, telling him the money was an advance.
Along with another client, Avenatti allegedly took a settlement of $ 2.75 million for one client and used most of the money to buy the plane, prosecutors said.
The brash lawyer and pit bull who rose to prominence nationally for representing pornstar Stormy Daniels in his legal war with former President Donald Trump has been in freefall since his arrest in Manhattan in March 2019 for charges. federal charges he tried to extort more than $ 20 million from Nike.
He was convicted in the Nike case and collapsed crying when a judge sentenced him to 2.5 years in prison in July.
“I lost my way. I betrayed my own values, my friends, my family and myself. I betrayed my job. I became motivated by the things that don’t matter in life. life “, Avenatti told Manhattan Federal Court.
Ahead of the decision to quash the trial on Tuesday, Avenatti appeared to test Judge Selna’s patience during his opening statement in a Santa Ana courtroom last month.
“This case didn’t start with a crime, it started with a target,” Avenatti told jurors.
“Sir. Avenatti, tell the jury what you’re going to prove,” the judge added, reminding the once high-profile lawyer that his opening was not the appropriate time to argue his theories, according to KNX1070 News Radio.
Back in New York, Avenatti is still battling another criminal case involving charges, he stole nearly $ 300,000 from Daniels.
According to prosecutors, he Daniels signature forgery to embezzle two down payments of $ 148,750 for his revealing book, “Full Disclosure,” detailing his alleged sexual encounter with Trump in 2006.
Avenatti is accused of spending Daniels’ money on travel and Ferrari.