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Disgraced Attorney Michael Avenatti Ordered to Pay Up for Trying to Extort Nike and Defrauding Stormy Daniels

 
Stormy Daniels Hosts A Party At The Abbey

WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA – MAY 23: Stormy Daniels and attorney Michael Avenatti are seen at The Abbey on May 23, 2018 in West Hollywood, California.

Disgraced attorney Michael Avenatti must pay $148,750 in restitution after being convicted in a pair of federal prosecutions in New York, one of which charged him with defrauding his most famous client: pornographic film actress Stormy Daniels.

The list of victims that the restitution money will compensate has been redacted by the court, but a government filing indicates that Daniels will get her share before Nike, a company that Avenatti was convicted of attempting to extort.

“The Government also notes that the proposed order directs the Clerk of Court to send payments to Ms. Daniels before payments are made to NIKE, Inc.,” the government’s letter to the court on Thursday states. “On this point, the government has conferred with counsel for Nike. Nike’s position is that individual victims of the defendant should receive restitution before the company does.”

Entered by U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman on Friday, the four-page restitution order formalizes that priority.

“Payments made by the defendant shall be distributed to the individual victim in this case prior to any payments made to NIKE, Inc.,” the order states.

Once a mainstay of the cable networks, Avenatti became a TV and Twitter star the year that he represented Daniels in various legal matters, including litigation with former President Donald Trump. He tried to intervene in a discovery battle that preceded the prosecution of Trump’s erstwhile fixer Michael Cohen, in a case that involved the former president’s hush money payments to Daniels to silence their alleged affair.

In the process, Avenatti burnished a reputation for defending underdogs against the powerful — and flirted with parlaying that into a presidential run. Then, his meteoric rise came crashing down with three federal prosecutions from coast-to-coast. Perhaps the most damaging case to his carefully cultivated image accused him of ripping off Daniels over the advanced she earned on her book, “Full Disclosure,” culminating in the rare and sensational testimony by the celebrity client against her celebrity lawyer.

At his trial, Avenatti did not deny taking some $300,000 of her $800,000 advance, arguing instead that it was fair compensation for services rendered. Prosecutors noted that their contract called only for a one-time payment of $100, plus “standard hourly fees and out-of-pocket costs” from any legal defense fund.

In California, Avenatti faced separate charges of defrauding others, pleading guilty to some of the counts against him. In that case, a federal judge ordered the forfeiture of a $4.5 million jet that Avenatti bought with stolen client money. He is slated to be sentenced in that case in November.

Avenatti received a four-year sentence for defrauding Daniels, a portion of which he is serving concurrently with a 2.5-year sentence for attempting to extort Nike. He is currently incarcerated in a low security prison in San Pedro, Calif., where his release date is currently listed for Jan. 27, 2026. That date is likely to be moved following his sentencing in the California prosecution.

Read the restitution order:

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Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on MSNBC, BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks.