Michael Avenatti charged with fraud, tax crimes in California


The new charges follow Avenatti's arrest in NY last month for allegedly trying to shake down Nike for up to $25 million and on two counts of wire and bank fraud from Southern California, where his firm is based.

Wednesday's indictment is separate from charges Avenatti faces in NY for allegedly trying to extort Nike out of more than $20 million.

Amid the news reports, Avenatti said Thursday on Twitter that he intends to plead not guilty and "fully fight" the charges against him. "I look forward to the entire truth being known as opposed to a one-sided version meant to sideline me".

Avenatti, 48, is also charged with not paying personal income taxes, not paying taxes for his various businesses, including two law firms, and pocketing payroll taxes from the Tully's Coffee chain that he owned, the indictment said.

"Money generated from one set of crimes appears in other sets - typically in the form of payments to lull victims and to prevent Mr. Avenatti's financial house of cards from collapsing", Hanna said in a statement.

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They threatened to go public unless Nike hired Avenatti to conduct an internal investigation for $15 million to $25 million, and paid an additional $1.5 million to the client, according to prosecutors.

Avenatti also allegedly submitted false information to financial institutions for several loans, including a 2011 tax return noting his adjusted gross income for that calendar year of approximately $4.6 million.

According to court documents, prosecutors said Avenatti would occasionally send Client 1 "advance" payments that didn't exceed $1,900. Federal authorities seized Avenatti's jet Wednesday, officials said Thursday.

The allegations involving Avenatti's disabled former client add an element of depravity to the criminal case.

In the indictment, prosecutors allege Avenatti stole millions of dollars in settlement money from five clients.

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In the case of the paraplegic client, for example, Avenatti, after having pocketed the client's $4 million settlement, directed a small portion of what the client was owed, $124,000, to be paid to the client and made some payments to assisted living facilities to cover the client's rent.

A vocal critic of President Donald Trump whose presence on cable television past year made him a national figure, Avenatti now finds himself buried in legal travails on both coasts. The money was wired to Avenatti in January 2015, but he hid it from Johnson for years, according to the indictment. The failure to respond led to Johnson's disability benefits being cut off in February.

After Avenatti was questioned about the alleged embezzlement during a judgment-debtor examination in federal court March 22, the indictment said he fabricated a defense for himself.

At that time, the U.S. Department of Justice and the IRS will reportedly plan to announce the "filing of a 36-count indictment".

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