Michael Avenatti, the high-profile civil attorney who gained fame and widespread cable-news exposure criticizing former President Donald Trump, was sentenced on Monday, Dec. 5, to 14 years in prison for stealing more than $10 million in settlement funds that should have gone to former clients.
U.S. District Judge James V. Selna, during a hearing at the federal courthouse in Santa Ana, also ordered Avenatti to pay more than $10.5 million in restitution, telling the former Newport Beach resident and one-time presidential aspirant that he has “done great evil for which he must answer.”
The 14-year sentence in the Orange County case comes on top of a combined five-year sentence Avenatti recently received in a federal court in New York for attempting to extort about $25 million from Nike and for stealing nearly $300,000 from adult-film actress Stormy Daniels, who Avenatti once represented in a legal dispute with then-President Trump.
The court loses mark a steep downfall from a once-successful attorney who shot to fame for fiery denunciations of Trump on broadcast news and once mulled his own presidential prospects before facing the web of criminal allegations.
Avenatti — who once described himself as a “David” going after “Goliaths” by representing “thousands of little guys” — apologized Monday to the four clients he admitted to stealing from, acknowledging that he misappropriated their money, misled them and violated their trust.
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