Attorney Michael Avenatti, who represented porn star Stormy Daniels in her legal battle against Donald Trump, will be arraigned on charges of embezzlement and fraud in federal court in Santa Ana, California. Avenatti will be entering a not guilty plea at the arraignment and a trial date will be scheduled.
In a statement, Avenatti said, “The right to a presumption of innocence and the right to a jury trial are two fundamental rights that our founding fathers demanded when this country was formed over 200 years ago. As a citizen of this country, I am entitled to both, I expect both, and I demand both. We don’t convict someone in America based on a one-sided argument and a press-conference,” Avenatti said. “Even when he is one of the biggest enemies of the president and his son.”
According to the AP, Avenatti was indicted earlier this month on 36 counts, including wire and bank fraud. Federal prosecutors in California claim Avenatti misled clients and misused their funds to pay personal and legal expenses, including financing a coffee shop and paying for his share of a private jet.
He’s also accused of failing to file his personal taxes since 2010 and to pay $3.2 million in payroll taxes on his coffee business, even though he reportedly withheld some of the money from employee paychecks.
New York prosecutors have separately accused Avenatti of trying to blackmail Nike Inc. for more than $20 million to stay quiet about claims he planned to reveal about the sports brand paying high school athletes. He was arrested in March for the blackmail allegations and is currently out on $300k bond.
Avenatti became prominent when he represented Daniels in her lawsuit to break a confidentiality agreement with Trump to keep their alleged affair quiet. At that point and ever since, Avenatti has been one of Trump’s leading adversaries.