Michael Avenatti was named in an indictment on Thursday. The U.S. Department of Justice and the IRS announced the “filing of a 36-count indictment.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, a grand jury indicted Avenatti on “36 counts of fraud, perjury, failure to pay taxes, embezzlement and other financial crimes.” The attorney is accused of stealing “millions of dollars from five clients and used a tangled web of shell companies and bank accounts to cover up the theft.”
The LA Times reports that Michael Avenatti is being accused, in part, of hiding a $4-million settlement from a client who was a “mentally ill paraplegic on disability”:
One of the clients, Geoffrey Ernest Johnson, was a mentally ill paraplegic on disability who won a $4-million settlement of a suit against Los Angeles County. The money was wired to Avenatti in January 2015, but he hid it from Johnson for years, according to the indictment.
In 2017, Avenatti received $2.75 million in proceeds from another client’s legal settlement, but concealed that too, the indictment says. The next day, he put $2.5 million of that money into the purchase of a private jet for Passport 420, LLC, a company he effectively owned, according to prosecutors.
The maximum possible punishment for these alleged offenses upon conviction, the report said, is 335 years in prison.
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