Stormy Daniels and Michael Avenatti went up against former President Donald Trump four years ago after Daniels claimed she had been paid $130,000 to keep quiet about a sexual encounter with Trump just before the 2016 presidential election (The New York Times).
In 2018, Avenatti, the pornographic film actress’s lawyer, filed a lawsuit against the former president saying a non-disclosure agreement with the payment was void because Trump had not signed it.
However, a Manhattan jury found Avenatti guilty of stealing from Daniels on Friday. Deliberation lasted three days before he was ultimately convicted of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. This aligned with accusations that he used a fake letter to trick Daniels’s literary agent into sending her nearly $300,000 in publisher’s payments meant for her.
Avenatti commented on the verdict after leaving the courthouse. He said, “I am very disappointed in the jury’s verdict. I look forward to a full adjudication of all the issues on appeal.” His sentencing date has been set to May 24th. Avenatti faces a maximum of 20 years in prison for wire fraud, and a mandatory two year sentence for aggravated identity theft.
Throughout the deliberations, jurors struggled to reach an agreement, especially on the wire fraud charge. The jury reported that one member was refusing to “look at” the evidence and was “acting on a feeling.”
After being told to “not be swayed by sympathy or emotion” by Judge Jesse M. Furman, the jurors reached their verdict. Avenatti has been accused of stealing and extorting money in numerous circumstances over the past couple years, and his reputation as a lawyer has suffered as a result.
ARTICLE: JILLIAN WEIDNER
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: BOSTON GLOBE