- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 16, 2022

Michael Avenatti, the high-flying anti-Trump lawyer brought low by his criminal misdeeds, pleaded guilty Thursday to another set of charges related to bilking the IRS and embezzling money from clients.

The plea, entered in federal court in California, follows convictions and sentencing in two separate cases in New York — one for attempting to extort millions of dollars from Nike, the apparel company, and the other for stealing money from Stormy Daniels, his porn-star client who battled President Donald Trump.

He is already facing five years in prison for those convictions, and he faces a maximum of 83 years for the California plea.

And there are still 31 other counts pending in California that were separated into another trial, though prosecutors said Thursday they will reevaluate how to handle those charges in light of the latest plea.

The five charges he pleaded guilty to include four counts of wire fraud and one count of obstructing the IRS.

Prosecutors have laid out an expansive case against Avenatti, saying he was struggling for money and bilked clients to keep his own affairs afloat, while lying to the clients about what happened to their money.

The IRS said he was $5 million in arrears in taxes, including payroll taxes that he withheld from employees’ paychecks for his struggling business, Tully’s Coffee.

The outstanding 31 charges include counts of identity theft, and bank and bankruptcy fraud.

Avenatti became a political icon for Democrats when he took on Mr. Trump, using Ms. Daniels’ allegation of an affair to make hundreds of television appearances criticizing the president. Mr. Trump denied the affair but an aide did pay money to Ms. Daniels.

Avenatti was so celebrated by Democrats that he even flirted with a presidential run, making appearances in early primary states.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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