Michael Avenatti Sentenced To 14 Years In Prison For Defrauding Clients

Attorney Michael Avenatti, once a cable news fixture for his commentary on Donald Trump, has been sentenced to 14 years in prison for defrauding clients and for obstructing an IRS collection effort.

U.S. District Judge James V. Selna ordered that Avenatti’s term run consecutive to previous sentences of five years handed down in two New York federal cases.

Avenatti pleaded guilty earlier this year to four counts of wire fraud, stemming from allegations that he embezzled millions from those he represented. The IRS also claimed that he obstructed their efforts to collect more than $3 million in payroll taxes from Tully’s Coffee, the business he owned.

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Avenatti also was ordered to pay almost $11 million in restitution to the former clients, as well as to the IRS.

U.S. Attorney Michael Estrada said in a statement, “He stole millions of dollars from his clients – all to finance his extravagant lifestyle that included a private jet and race cars. As a result of his illegal acts, he has lost his right to practice law in California, and now he will serve a richly deserved prison sentence.”

Avenatti’s attorney, Dean Steward, did not immediately return a request for comment. But he issued a statement to CNN in which he called the sentence “overly harsh.” “When compared with similar high-profile cases, the unfairness is glaring,” he said.

Avenatti was a favorite of TV bookers for his legal commentary, after he represented Stormy Daniels, the adult film actress who accused Donald Trump of having an affair with her. Avenatti was floated as a potential presidential contender in 2020, but his status crashed amid a series of federal investigations. Last year, he was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison on charges of trying to extort $25 million from Nike. He was sentenced to two years in prison in June on charges of fraud and identity theft related to his representation of Daniels.

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