SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — Federal prosecutors say they expect to drop additional charges against incarcerated lawyer Michael Avenatti after he pleaded guilty to multiple counts of wire fraud for swindling his clients out of settlement funds they were due.
In a court filing Tuesday, the U.S. attorney’s office said it “expects to move to dismiss the remaining counts of the Indictment after sentence is imposed.”
The move comes days after Avenatti entered guilty pleas in federal court to four counts of wire fraud and a tax-related charge. He is scheduled to be sentenced on those charges on Sept. 19.
Avenatti was indicted in 2019 on 36 counts, including bank and bankruptcy fraud. Prosecutors said Tuesday they aren’t planning to try Avenatti on six of the remaining charges and asked the court to delay trial on 25 other charges until next year.
Authorities said the 51-year-old lawyer — who is suspended from practicing law in California — cheated clients by negotiating and collecting settlement payments on their behalf and funneling the money to accounts he controlled. They said he owes his clients $9 million in restitution, but Avenatti said he disagrees with the estimate and the amount is much lower.
Avenatti is currently serving five years in prison for convictions in two cases in New York. He was convicted of stealing book proceeds from Stormy Daniels, the porn actor who catapulted Avenatti to fame as he represented her during her legal battles with then-President Donald Trump. He also was convicted of trying to extort Nike if the shoemaker didn’t pay him up to $25 million.
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