Lawyer Michael Avenatti was sentenced to four years in prison on Thursday for stealing from adult film actress Stormy Daniels.
Avenatti, who represented Daniels in a legal battle against former President Donald Trump, was convicted of taking nearly $300,000 owed to her from her 2018 autobiography “Full Disclosure.”
During the trial, Avenatti revealed the income was spent “on his firm’s payroll and personal expenses. Avenatti argued in closing arguments that he was acting in good faith, believing he was owed the money and never thinking it was wrong to take it,” according to NBC-4 New York.
The disgraced lawyer spoke on his behalf at the sentencing, admitting his “poor judgment” in the matter.
“I will forever be branded ‘disgraced lawyer’ and worse,” he acknowledged.
Avenatti had requested the opportunity to be sentenced remotely prior to the announcement on Thursday. U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman denied the request.
“In the Court’s view, the gravity and significance of the sentencing proceeding would be ill served by a remote proceeding,” Furman wrote.
Here's Judge Furman's full order denying Avenatti's second request to be sentenced via video in the @StormyDaniels case.
“In the Court’s view, the gravity and significance of the sentencing proceeding would be ill served by a remote proceeding.” pic.twitter.com/Hde3rrvIlL
— Meghann Cuniff (@meghanncuniff) May 11, 2022
The sentencing is scheduled to run concurrently with Avenatti’s sentencing in a separate Nike case that will include two and a half years to be served after his first sentence is complete.
In February, The Daily Wire reported that prosecutors said Avenatti helped negotiate an $800,000 book advance for Daniels, then instructed the porn star’s literary agent to wire the first two installments of the advance to an account Avenatti controlled. Avenatti took the payments, which totaled just under $300,000, without Daniels’ knowledge, according to CNN.
Avenatti previously became famous for his role as the attorney for Daniels, who claimed she had a one-night sexual affair with Trump in 2006 and was paid $130,000 in October 2016 by Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen to sign a nondisclosure agreement about the alleged affair.
The following year, Avenatti and Daniels became locked in a legal battle with Cohen over the validity of the agreement. When Cohen’s office, home, and hotel room were raided by the FBI in 2018, Daniels agreed to work with authorities, while Avenatti made more than a hundred appearances on various media outlets, in particular CNN and MSNBC, making allegations against Cohen and Trump.
Avenatti’s case with Nike led to his sentencing to 30 months in jail after he was convicted on three counts of attempting to extort Nike.
“Mr. Avenatti’s conduct was outrageous. He hijacked his client’s claims, and he used those claims to further his own agenda — which was to extort millions of dollars from Nike to enrich himself,” Judge Paul Gardephe said at the sentencing hearing. “Mr. Avenatti had become drunk on the power of his platform, or what he perceived the power of his platform to be. He had become someone who operated as if the laws and rules that apply to everyone else didn’t apply to him.”