Michael Avenatti, a disgraced anti-Trump attorney whom Democrats once feted as a potential 2020 presidential contender, has been found guilty of new charges.
Specifically, a court found him guilty of bilking adult film star Stormy Daniels out of some $300,000 in book proceeds, Fox News reported on Friday.
According to the report, jurors spent around 15.5 hours deliberating before returning their verdict Friday afternoon, finding Avenatti guilty of wire fraud, which carries a maximum of 20 years behind bars.
He was ordered to surrender to federal court officials no later than 5 p.m. on Monday. He stared straight ahead, emotionless, as the verdict was read.
His sentencing date is scheduled for May 24.
Conservative Brief adds:
Earlier on Thursday, jurors sent a note that they were unable to come to a consensus on the wire fraud charge. Lawyers on each side were discussing with U.S. District Judge Jesse M. Furman how to respond to the note, though Furman said he was inclined just to tell them to “keep at it.” He instructed them to continue their deliberations, reminding the jurors of the commitment they made to work toward a verdict.
“The case isn’t as clear-cut as the government wants everybody to believe, Avenatti, who represented himself, said to reporters as the jury deliberated.
“I was her advocate, I was her champion. I put everything on the line. I wanted to help her,” he said to the jury. “According to the government, Michael Avenatti could never have believed that he had the right to be paid. That is ludicrous, and it is not supported by the evidence.”
However, Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Sobelman said that Avenatti “got tangled in his own web of lies,” and said there was a “mountain of evidence,” against him.
“The defendant was a lawyer who stole from his own client. She thought that he was her own advocate, but he betrayed her, and he told lies to try to cover it all up,” he said. “The defendant’s lies and betrayal were exposed.”
Former President Donald Trump praised the Federal Election Commission in July after the agency announced it was dropping a case against him involving alleged ‘hush’ payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels.
The decision exonerated him from the 2016 campaign controversy in which he was accused of allegedly accepting an illegal contribution of $130,000 just before election day to pay off Daniels and buy her silence for an alleged sexual relationship in 2006.
Trump praised the FEC’s decision and blasted Cohen and Avenatti, who has was convicted last year of felony extortion against apparel giant Nike.