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Michael Avenatti indicted on 36 federal charges


The attorney is accused of tax dodging, perjury, theft from clients and other offenses

Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Attorney and fallen media darling Michael Avenatti has been indicted by a federal grand jury, accused of 36 criminal violations including embezzlement, lying under oath, and tax evasion.

What are the details?

Avenatti — who represented porn star Stormy Daniels in two failed lawsuits against President Donald Trump — allegedly stole millions of dollars from clients using "a tangled web of shell companies and bank accounts to cover up the theft." the Los Angeles Times reported.

According to prosecutors, the lawyer withheld settlement payments from five clients, spending the money on his own lavish expenses, including a private jet that was seized by authorities on Wednesday.

U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna said in a statement that the complaints of bank fraud, lying in bankruptcy proceedings, stealing and failing to pay taxes "alleged in the indictment are all linked to one another because money generated from one set of crimes appears in other sets — typically in the form of payments to lull victims and to prevent Mr. Avenatti's financial house of cards from collapsing."

If Avenatti is convicted on all the counts brought by the U.S. Attorney's office in Los Angeles, he's looking at spending up to 335 years in prison.

But the charges handed down Thursday are only part of Avenatti's troubles.

The lawyer also faces federal charges in New York for allegedly trying to extort millions from Nike. If he's found guilty of all charges related to that alleged scam, Avenatti could get another 47 years in the slammer. Also, the tough-talking litigator reportedly hasn't paid taxes in nearly a decade, and can't afford a defense attorney of his own.

Anything else?

Avenatti is currently free on a $300,000 bond. Following his release on Thursday, he tweeted out that he's "made many powerful enemies" over the years and intends "to fully fight all charges and plead not guilty."

Avenatti became a household name thanks to the attention he received from representing Daniels (whose given name is Stephanie Clifford) against the president over hush money for an alleged affair. He also represented a woman who accused Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct ahead of his confirmation.

The lawyer was even floated as a possible 2020 Democratic presidential contender, before he was accused of domestic violence last year.

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