Embattled attorney Michael Avenatti’s appeal in allegedly stolen settlement money case heads to Pasadena courtroom – Pasadena Now
Embattled attorney Michael Avenatti, best known for representing adult film actress Stormy Daniels in a nondisclosure dispute with former President Donald Trump and now for being convicted of stealing nearly $300,000 from him $, filed an appeal in a separate case that will be heard in Pasadena on March 14.
In that case, Avenatti is accused of stealing settlement money from multiple clients to help save his law firm from bankruptcy, avoid creditors, and spend on himself.
U.S. District Judge James Selna quashed the trial in the case on technical grounds because prosecutors failed to turn over relevant financial evidence to Avenatti. The federal judge found no evidence of willful misconduct by prosecutors, but essentially determined that the failure to disclose the information amounted to an oversight.
Avenatti has appealed and argues that the case against him should be dismissed for non-disclosure of evidence and that he cannot be retried due to dual criminality. He argues that because prosecutors caused the problem, they can’t bring him back to court again.
A hearing in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals for federal courts is scheduled for March 14 in Pasadena, Avenatti attorney Dean Steward said.
Avenatti’s defense team will argue that “the government withheld key evidence and knew about it,” Steward said. “It’s kind of (Brady movement) on steroids. We have to show that we were pushed into a motion to have the trial dismissed…and that’s a dual criminality claim. They can’t try again because they caused it.
Prosecutors argued in court papers that Avenatti made a “frivolous double jeopardy argument to delay a new trial he requested” and that the appeals judges lacked jurisdiction over the complaint.
Avenatti has had skirmishes in legal motions with prosecutors over correspondence Avenatti had with a privilege review team reviewing what can be disclosed in the case.
In question, the accounting information of his former law firm. Avenatti has repeatedly maintained that he was not obtaining all the data from his former law firm’s computers, but prosecutors have insisted that they hand over everything relevant and that they are required to do so. .
Avenatti said he was denied access to information from accounting software called Tabs and argued the government’s case was based on data from another accounting software called QuickBooks.
The difference between the two is that QuickBooks was primarily used for clients billed by the hour, but Tabs was used for clients whose cases were submitted to win. Avenatti argued that Tabs’ data was essential to his defense because it contributed to his argument that some of the alleged victims were customers whom he was entitled to charge for various expenses related to obtaining the settlements.
Avenatti is accused of defrauding at least five clients of nearly $10 million in settlement funds between January 2015 and March 2019.
In California, Avenatti is charged in a 36-count indictment with 10 counts of wire fraud and failure to file tax returns, eight counts of willful failure to collect and pay taxes. too withheld, two counts of bank fraud, three counts of a misrepresentation of bankruptcy and one count each of aggravated identity theft and perjury under oath in bankruptcy. His retrial would only deal with the 10 counts of wire fraud, with the rest of the case to be tried at a later date.
In separate cases, Avenatti was sentenced in July to 2½ years in prison for attempting to extort up to $25 million from Nike. He is appealing this conviction.
Avenatti is expected to be sentenced on May 24 in the Stormy Daniels case. He was found guilty on Friday of impersonation and wire fraud for asking Daniels’ literary agent to send about $300,000 of his advance on his “Full Disclosure” book, to a bank account operated by the lawyer. Avenatti argued that he owed the money for legal work on his behalf.