It’s never a good day when your private jet gets seized. But on Thursday, that was the least of embattled attorney Michael Avenatti’s worries.
According to the Associated Press, the jet he co-owns got taken on Wednesday as part of a massive investigation into numerous crimes he’s accused of committing. But the next day, he was hit with an eye-bulging number of charges that could land him an incredible number of years in jail:
36 federal charges with a potential prison sentence of 335 years in jail.
A spokesman described four sets of charges, saying, “First, wire fraud related to the theft of millions of dollars from five clients, including a parapelegic man who agreed to a multi-million dollar settlement but has received only a fraction of the money despite the fact that Mr. Avenatti received the full settlement amount over four years ago.”
“Second, tax fraud, including failing to file income tax returns for himself and his law firm,” he continued. “Mr. Avenatti also allegedly took steps to obstruct an IRS collection, hide his [Tully’s] coffee company income, and prevent the IRS from collecting on a series of tax liens and levies filed since 2017.”
“Third, bank fraud, including the allegations in the original complaint that Mr. Avenatti received three loans from a Mississippi bank based on applications supported by phony tax returns,” he added.
“And fourth,” he concluded, “bankruptcy fraud. The indictment alleges that after his law firm was forced into bankruptcy over two years ago, Mr. Avenatti has repeatedly lied to the bankruptcy court, to the bankruptcy trustee, and to his creditors by failing to report income his bankrupt firm was receiving.”
Federal prosecutors in California said all the crimes he’s accused of committing are connected. Avenatti insists he’s innocent and is fighting those charges tooth and nail.
“I intend to fully fight all charges and plead NOT GUILTY. I look forward to the entire truth being known as opposed to a one-sided version meant to sideline me,” he wrote on Twitter Thursday.
Now here’s the crazier part.
That 36-count federal indictment and 335 years of potential jail time don’t even include his alleged attempted extortion of Nike. That’s a whole separate case out of New York.
Avenatti is accused of demanding millions of dollars out of Nike lest he release damaging information about a scandal he claims they’re involved in.
According to the Washington Post, authorities say the lawyer had threatened to hold the damaging press conference unless Nike “paid his client $1.5 million and agreed to hire Avenatti and another lawyer for $15 to $25 million to conduct an ‘internal investigation’ into the allegations.”
Avenatti was caught by a sting operation conducted by federal investigators in cooperation with Nike.
Another strange twist in all this is that infamous lawyer Mark Geragos, who represents Smollett and former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, was named as a co-conspirator.