Disgraced celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti is seeking $94 million from the Federal Bureau of Prisons, alleging that he was brutally mistreated while in federal custody as punishment for criticizing former President Donald Trump and former Attorney General William P. Barr.
In his complaint, Avenatti argued that he’s entitled to $1 million for each of the 94 days he was held in solitary confinement or lockdown. He said that under the Federal Tort Claims Act that the government is liable for emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment and false arrest while he was held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan in 2020.
He was in the federal jail for those 94 days after violating pre-trial release conditions from charges of attempting to extort nearly $25 million from Nike.
His claim, known as a Standard Form 95, is the first step a person usually takes ahead of a potential lawsuit against the government. If a settlement cannot be reached or an agency denies the claim within six months, Avenatti could then file a lawsuit against the government in federal court.
In his claim filed late Thursday, Avenatti says he had limited contact with other inmates, friends and family. He also claims he was allowed access to one book — Mr. Trump’s “The Art of the Deal” — as retaliation for his vocal attacks on the former president.
“A federal district court judge has found that I was held under terrible conditions and that it was hard to believe it occurred in the United States of America,” Avenatti said in a statement. “I agree and I look forward to holding Trump and Barr accountable for what they did to me in the interest of politics and revenge. I’m not done fighting.”
A Bureau of Prisons spokesperson said it does not comment on pending litigation or legal proceedings, adding that it doesn’t provide information about conditions of confinement for any inmate.
The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment by The Washington Times.
Avenatti is facing federal criminal charges in California and New York for allegedly embezzling money from his clients, including Stormy Daniels, a porn star who claimed she had an affair with Mr. Trump. The former president has denied her claims.
He is also no longer eligible to practice law in California.
Avenatti was arrested in January 2020 for violating the conditions of his pretrial release in the California case and transferred to Manhattan, where he faced trial in a separate case.
Last year Avenatti was convicted of attempted extortion of Nike and sentenced to 30 months in prison. He is not expected to surrender to begin serving that sentence until the end of February.
In New York, Avenatti will stand trial later this month on allegations he swindled Ms. Daniels out of the money she earned from a book deal.
While in California, he faces allegations that he stole millions of dollars from a client. That case ended in a mistrial in August, but prosecutors have appealed the case to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit asking for a retrial.
Avenatti has appealed his conviction in the Nike case.
Correction: An earlier headline in this story mischaracterized Avenatti’s action against the Bureau of Prisons. He filed a claim against the BOP.