Michael Avenatti guilty in fraud trial over Stormy Daniels book money

Former attorney Michael Avenatti, representing himself, presents his closing arguments during his criminal trial at the United States Courthouse in the Manhattan borough of New York City, February 2, 2022 in this courtroom sketch.

Jane Rosenberg | Reuters

A New York jury on Friday convicted disgraced celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti of swindling his former client, porn star Stormy Daniels, out of nearly $300,000 that she was owed for a book deal.

The guilty verdict on charges of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft at Avenatti’s trial in Manhattan federal court is his second criminal conviction in that court.

The 50-year-old was convicted at a separate trial there two years ago this month of an extortion scheme against athletic apparel giant Nike.

Avenatti also faces re-trial in a third federal criminal case that ended in a mistrial last August. In that case, which is being prosecuted in California, he is accused of stealing almost $10 million from multiple clients.

Avenatti, who represented himself during the trial related to Daniels, had claimed he was owed the money he took from Daniels’ $800,000 advance for her 2018 book, “Full Disclosure.”

Avenatti before his downfall had been a leading critic of former President Donald Trump.

Daniels has claimed that she had a one-time sexual tryst with Trump years ago. Avenatti represented Daniels in connection with her claims and a related criminal probe of Trump’s then-personal lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen.

Trump has denied her allegations. But Cohen has said he paid Daniels a total of $130,000 in hush money before the 2016 presidential election to keep her quiet about her claims.

Cohen later pleaded guilty to crimes related to that payoff and other actions, and served time in prison.

Avenatti has yet to begin serving a 30-month prison sentence for his effort to shake down Nike out of up to $25 million.

He is out on bond while appealing his conviction in that case.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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