When it rains, it pours. Michael Avenatti already faces a number of federal charges relating to alleged fraud and extortion, and we can now add tax evasion to the list. Prosecutors will file a 36-count indictment in Los Angeles today against the celebrity attorney who briefly flirted with the idea of running for president:
Celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti is expected be slammed Thursday with a 36-count indictment by a federal grand jury in Los Angeles.
The indictment, scheduled to be discussed at a press conference in Los Angeles at 9 a.m. Pacific Time, comes more than two weeks after federal prosecutors in Los Angele and New York hit Avenatti with separate criminal complaints.
A press advisory issued by prosecutors says that the IRS is involved in the case, which suggests Avenatti will be charged with tax crimes.
NBC later reported that it includes tax crimes, as well as stealing from the disabled. Say what?
Former attorney for Stormy Daniels and potential Presidential candidate Michael Avenatti has been indicted by a federal grand jury in California on 36 counts, including embezzling from a paraplegic, court documents show. …
Avenatti faces charges of wire fraud, failure to college and withhold payroll taxes, attempting to obstruct the IRS, failing to file tax returns, aggravated identity fraud, bank fraud and false testimony under oath during bankruptcy.
The charge involving the paraplegic states that Avenatti lied to his client several times, including telling him that L.A. County hadn’t paid him in a $4 million dollar settlement as a lump sum, which the county had.
Good Lord. If that’s true, and let’s emphasize that it hasn’t yet been proven, Avenatti would reset the scale for despicable. In typical fashion, Avenatti responded with a come at me bro statement, along with a somewhat bizarre biblical reference under the circumstances:
For 20 years, I have represented Davids vs. Goliaths and relied on due process and our system of justice. Along the way, I have made many powerful enemies. I am entitled to a FULL presumption of innocence and am confident that justice will be done once ALL of the facts are known.
— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) April 11, 2019
David and Goliath? Maybe Robin Hood is a better historical analogy, only with a hefty transactional fee if the allegations are accurate. And once again, let us revel in the irony of Avenatti’s embrace of due process after his bizarre attempt to railroad Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation process to the Supreme Court. Any appeals that reach that level should be fun fun fun.
Some of the charges may be related to allegations already announced, as federal prosecutors have to get a grand jury to formally issue indictments. The IRS angle is new, and might explain the seizure of Avenatti’s jet earlier this week. Adding those to the list of charges Avenatti faces would require either a separate or superceding indictment. If it’s the latter, then not all of the 36 counts will be new, but enough of them will be to make Avenatti’s defense even more complicated.
Prosecutors will hold a presser today starting at noon to review the indictment and any new allegations emerging from it. Avenatti’s public defender will likely have more to say afterward, but if he’s any kind of lawyer, he’ll keep Avenatti from adding to the public record. We’ll have more as developments warrant.
Update: Here’s a fun factoid from Politico:
New York prosecutors worked to coordinate the arrest with those in Los Angeles, who at the time charged Avenatti with bank and wire fraud. The list of alleged crimes committed by the lawyer has since multiplied so much that if convicted, Avenatti would face a maximum sentence of 333 years plus a mandatory two-year sentence for aggravated identity theft, California prosecutors said.
Yeah, but he’d be eligible for parole in, oh … 284 years and nine months. In reality, the sentences would run concurrently (or mostly so) and his lack of previous convictions would put him on the lighter side of sentencing recommendations. Twenty years or so might be more realistic — and certainly bad enough.