According to NBC News, Avenatti is alleged to have mishandled funds that were intended for Daniels while he was representing her as a client. Federal prosecutors claimed that Avenatti took nearly $300,000 from Daniels, resulting in charges of fraud and aggravated identity theft. The indictment alleges that the lawyer used “fraudulent document purporting to bear his client’s name and signature to convince his client’s literary agent to divert money owed to Avenatti’s client to an account controlled by Avenatti.”
On Tuesday night, Avenatti made public reference to the impending charges against him, writing, “I expect an indictment to issue from SDNY in the next 48 hrs charging me in connection with my arrest in March. I intend on fighting these bogus/legally baseless allegations, and will plead not guilty to ALL CHARGES. I look forward to the trial where I can begin to clear my name.” He has since made his Twitter protected.
In March, Avenatti was arrested in New York City and charged with two counts of extortion and two counts of conspiracy to extort, with federal prosecutors claiming that Avenatti threatened to release damaging information about the sneaker company Nike in exchange for a payoff totaling $20 million. Prosecutors in California also simultaneously filed separate criminal charges against Avenatti, including one count of bank fraud and one count of wire fraud, based on allegations that he had embezzled from his clients.
The bombastic 48-year-old defense attorney rose to fame in 2016, when he started representing Daniels in her legal battle with President Donald Trump and Michael Cohen, whom she accused of orchestrating a payoff of $130,000 to keep her quiet about her sexual relationship with Trump. Avenatti attempted to void a non-disclosure agreement Daniels said she had been told to sign and also filed a defamation lawsuit against Trump and Cohen, which Daniels later said was against her wishes. (Earlier this month, Daniels reached a settlement with Cohen and her former lawyer Keith Davidson, the terms of which have not been disclosed.)
As Daniels’ attorney, Avenatti became a staple of cable news programming and the subject of an untold number of thirsty left-wing memes, and even toyed with the idea of running for president. Their relationship ended, however, back in March, when Daniels announced on Twitter that she had replaced Avenatti with attorney Clark Brewster.
At the time, Avenatti told CNBC that he had “made the decision to terminate the representation….NOT the other way around.” But following Avenatti’s arrest later that month, Daniels elaborated on the decision to terminate the relationship, writing, “Knowing that I know now about Michael Avenatti, I am saddened but not shocked by news reports that he has been criminally charged today. I made the decision more than a month ago to terminate Michael’s services after discovering that he had dealt with me extremely dishonestly and there will be more announced to come.”