Trump critic Michael Avenatti faces further indictments and centuries of jail time

Celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti arrives for his first hearing in Santa Ana federal court on bank and wire fraud charges

A federal grand jury has indicted attorney Michael Avenatti on 36 counts of fraud, perjury, failure to pay taxes, embezzlement and other financial crimes, the U.S. Justice Department said Thursday.

The Santa Ana grand jury outlined serial abuses of power, alleging that Avenatti stole millions of dollars from five of his own clients.

FILE - In this December 12, 2018, file photo, attorney Michael Avenatti, speaks outside court in New York.An indictment filed against Avenatti, Wednesday, April 10, alleges he stole millions of dollars from clients, didn't pay his taxes, committed bank fraud and lied in bankruptcy proceedings.

In all, Avenatti has been charged with 10 counts of wire fraud, 19 tax-related offenses, two counts of bank fraud, and four counts of bankruptcy fraud, while he remains free on the $300,000 bond he posted last month. He is also accused of failing to pay payroll taxes for his coffee business, although he withheld much of the money from his employees. Mr. Avenatti made false statements or lied to an IRS officer, opened a bank account to transfer and hide funds from credit card purchases made by consumers at his coffee shop, and told employees to despite cash from the coffee shop into a bank account which belonged to a vehicle racing business also ran by Mr. Avenatti. The report, which cited the indictment, said Avenatti received the money from LA county in 2015 but did not tell Johnson about it.

Ryan L. Korner, the acting special agent in charge with the IRS's criminal investigation in LA said the agency's investigation of Avenatti "details a man who allegedly failed to meet his obligations to the government, stole from his clients, and used his ill-gotten gains to support his racing team, the ownership of Tully's coffee shops, and a private jet".

If Avenatti is found guilty of all charges in the new indictment, he could be sentenced to a maximum of 335 years in prison.

The indictment came about three weeks after Avenatti, who gained national fame for representing adult film star Stormy Daniels in her litigation against Trump, was arrested in NY on separate criminal complaints filed by federal prosecutors in NY and California. He faces 47 years in prison if convicted in that case. But Avenatti denied to the client that the total settlement had already been paid.

Avenatti has waived his right to a preliminary hearing.

In the case of the paraplegic client, for example, Avenatti, after having pocketed the client's $4 million settlement, directed a small portion of what the client was owed, $124,000, to be paid to the client and made some payments to assisted living facilities to cover the client's rent. He has said he expects to be cleared in that case.

Avenatti gained national attention as the lawyer for Stormy Daniels, the porn star with whom President Donald Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen brokered an illegal hush money agreement.

The lawyer was arrested last month in NY for allegedly attempting to extort millions of dollars from Nike.

Two years after the settlement was reached, Avenatti allegedly helped Johnson find a real estate agent to buy a house.

On Thursday, asked about Avenatti's claim that the indictment was the result of a conspiracy by prominent figures Avenatti has antagonized, Hanna dismissed that allegation: "Nothing can be farther from the truth".

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