Michael Avenatti earned millions of dollars as an attorney and had a habit of making six-figure purchases—all while failing to pay his sizable tax bills and, eventually, ceasing to file taxes at all, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Things have gotten so bad for the former lawyer to adult film actress Stormy Daniels that he is now claiming that he can't even afford a lawyer to defend him against charges that he tried to extort more than $20 million from Nike.
Avenatti is facing up to 50 years in prison for tax and other fraud cases in California, and another potential 47 years from the Nike extortion case.
Big tax problems: Avenatti has made a lot of money over the years. He reported $1.9 million in personal income in 2009 and $1.2 million in 2010.
Problem is, he kept it all for himself, leaving more than $800,000 in owed taxes unpaid for those two years. After that, we don't know how much money Avenatti made—because he stopped filing taxes altogether after 2010.
That doesn't even account for earnings from his law firm. According to the Los Angeles Times, Avenatti made bank deposits totaling about $18 million in personal income and $38 million in business income.
In 2015, Avenatti purchased the Seattle-based coffee chain Tully's for $9 million dollars. The company was withholding tax money from employee paychecks, but not sending any of it to the IRS.
He wasn't paying, but he was spending: The Los Angeles Times cited some big-time purchases by Avenatti while he was ducking the IRS, such as a $217,000 shopping trip at Neiman Marcus, $117,000 at a luxury watch store, and $277,236 at Porsche dealerships. He sometimes used business funds for his personal expenses.
"You would think that someone with those skeletons in his closet would try to maintain a low profile," said Andrew Stolper, a former attorney at Avenatti's firm. "Stealing client money, not paying taxes. The question is why was he doing this? You don't have to search very far to see that he was trying to support a lifestyle that was unsupportable."
(H/T The Daily Caller)