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Prosecutors plan to charge Michael Avenatti for Stormy Daniels work

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Federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York are planning to charge the celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti for misappropriating money that was supposed to be paid to the adult-film actress Stormy Daniels while he was her attorney, ABC News reported.

Avenatti is already a defendant in two other federal criminal lawsuits: one, also from the Manhattan US attorney’s office, accuses him of attempting to extort more than $20 million from Nike. The second, brought in California, charged him with embezzling a client’s money “in order to pay his own expense and debts,” and of “defrauding a bank in Mississippi.”

On Tuesday, Avenatti wrote on Twitter, “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.”

Read more: Michael Avenatti tells Twitter he believes he will be indicted soon in Nike extortion case

On Wednesday, Avenatti told ABC News that “No monies relating to Ms. Daniels were ever misappropriated or mishandled. She received millions of dollars worth of legal services and we expended huge sums in expenses. She directly paid only $100.00 (not a typo) for all that she received.”

Avenatti rose to fame over the last year for representing Daniels, who sued President Donald Trump to get out of a nondisclosure agreement she had signed regarding an affair she claimed she had with him in the 2000s.

Daniels’ lawsuit was central to a separate Manhattan US attorney’s office investigation into Trump’s and his former lawyer Michael Cohen’s business dealings before the 2016 US election. In March, Daniels announced that Avenatti no longer represented her.

In a statement after first two cases against Avenatti were announced in March, Daniels said, “Knowing what 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 announcements to come.”

Read more: Michael Avenatti is accused of embezzling $2.5 million from an NBA player, report says

In the Nike extortion case, an FBI agent wrote in a court filing that Avenatti said he would hold a press conference alleging misconduct at Nike unless he and another lawyer were paid between $15 million and $25 million to conduct an internal investigation, or were given $22.5 million to resolve their client’s claims in exchange for their silence.

“Full confidentiality, we ride off into the sunset,” Avenatti told a Nike representative, according to the FBI agent.

Nike notified the Southern District of New York of Avenatti’s threats that same day.

Meanwhile, the California lawsuit accuses Avenatti of executing a scheme, from roughly December 2017 to March 2019, to defraud his clients and to “obtain money and property” from them “by means of material false and fraudulent pretenses, representations, and promises, and the concealment of material facts.”

Prosecutors also allege that Avenatti attempted to facilitate a fraudulent wire transfer of $494,500 from The Peoples Bank in Mississippi to a California Bank and Trust account in his law firm’s name.

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