Celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti will head to trial in April on charges that he defrauded adult film actress Stormy Daniels, reports Courthouse News Service. Avenatti is accused of trying to rip off Daniels, whom he represented in a 2018 lawsuit against President Donald Trump by stealing the advance on her book deal, which he helped to secure. Prosecutors say Avenatti used the money, about $300,000, on lavish expenses like hotels, airfare and a Ferrari, and to pay employees of his law firm and a coffee business he owned. The May 2019 indictment was filed in New York’s Southern District. It alleges that Avenatti lied to Daniels repeatedly, telling her he was working on getting book fees from her publisher, when in fact he already had received the money and was putting it toward expenses from luxury car payments to dry cleaning.
Avenatti pleaded not guilty and was released on bail of $300,000 — the same amount he is accused of taking from Daniels. The Daniels fraud case is just one of several ongoing legal matters against Los Angeles-based Avenatti. In February, the celebrity attorney was convicted of extorting Nike for tens of millions of dollars, for which he will be sentenced in December. Avenatti also faces prosecution in California on charges that include stealing millions of dollars from clients’ settlement money, lying on income taxes and deceiving investigators during bankruptcy proceedings. This week, U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman set a trial date of April 26. Given the delays the pandemic has already caused, the judge noted that the date may need to be revisited.