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Michael Avenatti charged with defrauding porn star Stormy Daniels out of nearly $300,000

He denies the claims

Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

A federal grand jury in New York charged attorney Michael Avenatti with embezzling nearly $300,000 from his former client, adult film star Stormy Daniels.

The 48-year-old lawyer was charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft, according to Fox News.

Prosecutors have accused Avenatti of stealing "a significant portion" of an advance that Daniels was to receive for a book deal. Daniels' book, "Full Disclosure," was published last fall. The book detailed her alleged affair with President Donald Trump in 2006.

Although Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, is not named in the court documents, the filing's details make it obvious that she is "Victim-1," according to the New York Post.

Avenatti allegedly forged Daniels' signature on a letter to her literary agent that instructed them to divert two installment payments of $148,750 to an account which he controlled.

"Michael Avenatti abused and violated the core duty of an attorney – the duty to his client," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said in a statement. "As alleged, he used his position of trust to steal an advance on the client's book deal. As alleged, he blatantly lied to and stole from his client to maintain his extravagant lifestyle, including to pay for, among other things, a monthly car payment on a Ferrari. Far from zealously representing his client, Avenatti, as alleged, instead engaged in outright deception and theft, victimizing rather than advocating for his client."

When Daniels questioned Avenatti about the initial payment, he lied and told her that money had not come through.

Later, he allegedly "used funds recently received from another source" to cover the payment, according to prosecutors.

A couple of weeks later, he allegedly stole another payment that he falsely told Daniels he had not received.

What did Avenatti say?

Avenatti has denied the allegations.

"I look forward to a jury hearing all of the evidence and passing judgment on my conduct. At no time was any money misappropriated or mishandled. I will be fully exonerated once the relevant emails, contracts, text messages, and documents are presented," he told Fox News in an emailed statement.

In another statement to ABC News, Avenatti claimed that he only received $100 in payments from Daniels for "millions of dollars" in legal services.

"No monies relating to Ms. Daniels were ever misappropriated or mishandled," he said. "She received millions of dollars worth of legal services and we spent huge sums in expenses. She directly paid only $100.00 for all that she received. I look forward to a jury hearing the evidence."

What else?

In another indictment that was unsealed on Wednesday, Avenatti was charged with alleged attempt to extort more than $20 million from Nike, the New York Post reported. He was arrested for the charge in March.

In California, Avenatti faces multiple federal charges for stealing from clients, evading taxes and lying during bankruptcy hearings.

One last thing…
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