Michael Avenatti was released on $300,000 bond after being arrested in New York earlier today. Avenatti is accused of attempting to extort Nike out of tens of millions of dollars in New York. He’s also accused of embezzling money from clients to pay his business debts in California. Federal officials in that state filed charges against Avenatti for tax fraud among other charges.
Michael Avenatti is facing a combined 97 years in federal prison between the charges in both states.
Earlier this evening Avenatti released a statement saying he is confident that he will be “fully exonerated.” Avenatti also said he will “never stop fighting the good fight.”
The problem for Avenatti in New York is apparently his extortion attempts were caught on tape. Avenatti initially threatened Nike in a meeting with their legal team on March 19. All subsequent interactions between him and Nike at that point were recorded by the FBI.Say what you will about the Bureau’s investigative skills (see: Las Vegas), but it’s pretty hard to argue when your attempt to extort millions from a top company is on a tape in an FBI field office.
The fraud charges in California come down to numbers. Either Avenatti embezzled money and committed fraud or he didn’t. There isn’t a whole lot of area in between. One doesn’t accidentally stumble into embezzling a client’s money and then using said money to pay off the debts that your law firm has incurred. The fact that Avenatti’s facing federal charges in California means the feds are pretty confident about the evidence against him.
Michael Avenatti’s trials haven’t started yet. Additionally, we haven’t seen what evidence the feds have against him. I seriously doubt, however, that Avenatti is going to be “fully exonerated.”
I see two possibilities here.
One, Michael Avenatti takes whatever plea deal prosecutors are prepared to offer him, if any. I seriously doubt he’ll get the sweetheart deal that he got when he was charged with felony domestic battery. Most likely any deal the feds give Avenatti will include a very, very lengthy prison sentence coupled with a number of years of probation. Naturally, Avenatti will lose his law license and his career will be shattered.
Two, Michael Avenatti goes to trial. As I said before, the feds in both states seem extremely confident in the evidence they’ve gathered against Avenatti. I’m not a fancy big city lawyer. I didn’t even stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night. I can’t, however, see a trial going well for Avenatti at all. The likeliest outcome from what we know at this point seems to involve Avenatti going to jail for the rest of his natural life.
Regardless of what happens, this is a man who did his best to bring down the duly elected president of the United States of America. Avenatti also slandered Brett Kavanaugh with some of the worst smears imaginable simply because he wanted to keep his name in the papers. I find it difficult to conjure up any sympathy for a man who is the textbook definition of shyster lawyer.
Michael Avenatti deserves every single thing coming to him, and then some.