In trial closing, prosecutor says lies caught up to Avenatti

Feb 2, 2022, 9:55 AM | Updated: 10:06 am

NEW YORK (AP) — A prosecutor told jurors Wednesday in a trial’s closing arguments that California lawyer Michael Avenatti told repeated lies to porn actor Stormy Daniels in 2018 to hide his theft of her book proceeds. Avenatti, representing himself, said he never committed a crime.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Sobelman instructed the Manhattan federal jury to follow a trail of text messages, bank statements and lies by Avenatti to reach its verdict on charges of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.

“They traveled and appeared on television together. He was supposed to be her advocate. But the defendant betrayed her trust. He stole from her and lied to her over and over and over again,” Sobelman said.

The prosecutor made a passing reference to testimony by Daniels about communicating with dead people and unusual experiences she faced when she lived in a New Orleans home, saying Avenatti was trying to portray her as crazy.

“Does she have some unusual experiences? Yes. Some unusual beliefs? Sure. But everything she told you is backed up by the documents and the text messages,” Sobelman said.

Prosecutors say Avenatti pocketed nearly $300,000 in 2018 by using a fake document to make it appear that Daniels approved of her book proceeds going into a bank account Avenatti controlled. They say he did that even though his contract with Daniels called for him to receive only $100 for his work on her behalf.

Avenatti, who replaced his lawyers with himself on the day after opening statements, has insisted he had permission from Daniels to pocket some of the $800,000 advance on her autobiography, “Full Disclosure.” Daniels testified that he did not.

In his own closing argument, Avenatti told jurors that he and his firm had spent millions of dollars “to the benefit of Ms. Daniels.” He said that if they conclude that he had a good faith belief in his mind that he was entitled to be paid from book proceeds, they jurors must acquit.

“A good faith belief, ladies and gentlemen, is a complete defense to all of these charges. It’s game over for the government,” he said. “Let me be clear, Michael Avenatti never committed the crime of wire fraud. Michael Avenatti never committed the crime of aggravated identity theft. There is insufficient evidence, ladies and gentlemen, to show that Michael Avenatti, ever intended to defraud Ms. Daniels.”

He accused Daniels of lying when she testified for two days last week and called her “not credible,” citing her testimony that she has a doll that called her “mommy,” that she sees dead people and can see inside a house from the outside.

“Is that somebody you can count on 100% when determining whether someone committed a crime beyond a reasonable doubt?” Avenatti asked. “I would submit no.”

Daniels and Avenatti were a team in 2018 as he represented her in lawsuits against former President Donald Trump. She hired him in her bid to speak publicly about claims of a tryst with Trump a decade earlier despite being paid $130,000 shortly before the 2016 presidential election to remain silent.

While representing Daniels, Avenatti appeared frequently as a guest on television cable news programs and grew in popularity to the point where he considered running for president himself in 2020.

But then he was charged in New York in early 2019 with trying to extort up to $25 million from Nike with threats that he would otherwise spoil the apparel maker’s reputation. He was charged the same day in Los Angeles with ripping off clients for millions of dollars.

Weeks later, he was charged with stealing from Daniels. He pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Avenatti, 50, has already been sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison in the Nike case. The Los Angeles case resulted in a mistrial last year as Avenatti represented himself.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

The New York Stock Exchange building is seen, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, in the Financial District of...
Associated Press

Wall Street drops back to lowest since 2020 as fear returns

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks fell broadly on Wall Street Thursday as worries about a possible recession and rising bond yields put the squeeze back on markets. The S&P 500 fell 2.1%, reaching its lowest level since late 2020. The washout erased the index’s gains in a big rally the day before. That’s when forceful […]
18 hours ago
Associated Press

Hurricane Ian ‘street shark’ video defies belief

Photos and videos of sharks and other marine life swimming in suburban floodwaters make for popular hoaxes during massive storms. But a cellphone video filmed during Hurricane Ian’s assault on southwest Florida isn’t just another fish story. The eye-popping video, which showed a large, dark fish with sharp dorsal fins thrashing around an inundated Fort […]
18 hours ago
Robert Leisure surveys the wreckage of his business, Getaway Marina, which was destroyed during the...
Associated Press

Hurricane Ian sweeps away homes, memories on barrier islands

FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. (AP) — On the road into Fort Myers Beach, cars are left abandoned in the roadway, where they stalled when Hurricane Ian’s storm surge flooded their engines and their drivers couldn’t continue. Broken trees, boat trailers and other debris litter the road. It’s even worse in the seaside tourist town, much […]
18 hours ago
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., asks question during the Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearing, Th...
Associated Press

New federal prisons chief vows to fix troubles, regain trust

WASHINGTON (AP) — The new director of the federal Bureau of Prisons vowed Thursday that “the buck stops with me” when it comes to fixing the crisis-plagued agency, ticking off a list of top priorities, from solving a staffing crisis to ending widespread misconduct. Colette Peters’ testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee — the first […]
18 hours ago
An electrical pole leans on felled power lines in the wake of Hurricane Ian in Havana, Cuba, Wednes...
Associated Press

Cubans suffer as hurricane-caused power outage drags on

HAVANA (AP) — Ivette Garrido hurried last week to get the 6 kilograms (13 pounds) of subsidized chicken allotted to her family by Cuba’s government and put it in the freezer, happy to have meat to get through Hurricane Ian. Now she is considering giving the chicken to her three dogs before it goes bad […]
18 hours ago
Associated Press

Authorities: Texas man shoots 2 migrants near Mexico border

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Two brothers in Texas have been arrested after authorities say one of them opened fire on a group of migrants getting water near the U.S.-Mexico border, killing one man and shooting a woman in the stomach, according to court documents filed Thursday. The shooting Tuesday was in rural Hudspeth County about […]
18 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
...
Sanderson Ford

Don’t let rising fuel prices stop you from traveling Arizona this summer

There's no better time to get out on the open road and see what the beautiful state of Arizona has to offer. But if the cost of gas is putting a cloud over your summer vacation plans, let Sanderson Ford help with their wide-range selection of electric vehicles.
In trial closing, prosecutor says lies caught up to Avenatti