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Michael Avenatti Indicted on 36 Financial Crimes Charges

12 April, 2019, 10:46 | Author: Taylor George
  • Celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti arrives for his first hearing in Santa Ana federal court on bank and wire fraud charges

Celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti, who is already accused of federal financial crimes, has been indicted on 36 counts of embezzlement and fraud by a California federal grand jury, US prosecutors announced Thursday.

The Internal Revenue Services will also be present at the Thursday press conference, likely indicating that Avenatti faced tax charges as well.

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", he wrote on social media.

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

It is Lawyer 101: "You do not steal your clients' money", said Hanna. In California, it was alleged that Avenatti committed wire fraud and bank fraud to embezzle a client's money for the goal of paying off his own debts.

The case is U.S. v. Avenatti, 19-mj-241, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Santa Ana).

When the IRS later put tax levies on coffee company bank accounts to collect more than $5 million, Avenatti had Tully's employees deposit cash receipts in a little-known account for his auto racing team, authorities said.

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The indictment said Avenatti made false statements in bankruptcy proceedings by submitting forms under penalty of perjury that under reported income his firm received.

The indictments include the two charges filed against him in March, including allegations that Avenatti submitted fake financial information to a MS bank in order to get three loans worth $4.1 million.

After Avenatti negotiated settlements for the clients that required payment to go to them, he would lie to the clients about the terms of the settlements, instead depositing the funds to attorney trust accounts he controlled, the indictment says. But Avenatti denied to the client that the total settlement had already been paid.

In one of these cases, Avenatti represented Geoffrey Johnson, a paraplegic on disability, against the County of Los Angeles where a $4 million settlement was reached in 2015.

At the time, Avenatti and his businesses owed millions of dollars in back taxes, the government claimed, and his Newport Beach law firm, Eagan Avenatti, was weeks from bankruptcy.

He also labeled any claims that he mishandled client money as "bogus nonsense". But when Johnson was in escrow to purchase the property, Avenatti falsely said he had not received the settlement funds, the indictment said.

On the day of his arrest, federal agents executed search warrants at Avenatti's Century City apartment, his Echo Park law office and the Yorba Linda home of Judy Regnier, the office manager at Eagan Avenatti, according to the USA attorney's office. The failure to respond led to Johnson's disability benefits being cut off in February. The money was wired to Avenatti in January 2015, but he hid it from Johnson for years, according to the indictment.

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