After admitting he defrauded four of his clients out of millions of dollars, imprisoned attorney Michael Avenatti was sentenced to 14 years and told to pay more than $10 million in restitution on Monday in Southern California.
At a hearing in Santa Ana, California, U.S. District Judge James V. Selna ruled that the sentence should be carried out concurrently with the five years in prison that the defendant is already serving as a result of other convictions in New York.
It is the third and final of three significant federal criminal prosecutions against the 51-year-old Californian, who gained notoriety by defending porn star Stormy Daniels in her legal disputes with Donald Trump and emerging as one of the former president’s most formidable foes.
Despite not striking a plea agreement with federal prosecutors, Avenatti admitted guilt to four charges of wire fraud and a tax-related felony earlier this year.
He stated that he did this because he wanted to be held accountable and protect his family from additional shame.
He was charged with representing his clients in settlement negotiations and payments, receiving the money through accounts he controlled, and then using it to fund his extravagant lifestyle, including purchasing a private plane.
According to the prosecutor, Brett Sagel, “despite the tremendous advantages that this defendant had—a first-rate education, a flourishing legal career—he decided to perpetrate the despicable acts in this case repeatedly.”
“The defendant is just another criminal who believes that the law only applies to others,” says the prosecutor.
Avenatti apologized to the victims of his deception, including two who testified in court about losing the money and their faith in a person they thought had their backs completely upended their lives.
Avenatti stated, “I am deeply sorry and apologetic. Without a doubt, they all deserve far more, and I hope they will one day accept my apologies and forgive me from the bottom of their hearts.
Avenatti is serving time in prison for taking book royalties from Daniels, who sued to violate a confidentiality agreement with Trump to keep quiet about an alleged romance, and for attempting to extort Nike if the sportswear company did not pay him up to $25 million.