Controversial attorney Michael Avenatti is facing a raft of felony counts filed by federal prosecutors in California and New York for allegedly defrauding his clients and attempting to extort the sportswear manufacturer Nike. The 48-year-old litigator's legal position became even more precarious on May 22 when U.S. attorneys in New York added counts of aggravated identity theft and fraud. The latest charges stem from Avenatti's representation of Stephanie Clifford, who is better known by her stage name Stormy Daniels.
Celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti has been indicted on several charges, including fraud, perjury, tax evasion and embezzlement. The 36-count indictment was issued by a federal grand jury in California on April 11. Avenatti, who became a regular sight on cable news shows when he filed a lawsuit against President Donald Trump on behalf of the adult film star Stormy Daniels, faces up to 335 years in prison if convicted on all counts. He also faces extortion charges in New York that could add up to 47 years to his custodial sentence.
The Securities and Exchange Commission has a mission to protect investors in California and around the country. On Feb. 13, the SEC took a step toward that goal by filing federal charges against a former high-ranking attorney with Apple Inc. The suit alleges the defendant used his inside knowledge to profit illegally.
In most states, the law clearly distinguishes between felonies and misdemeanors. California also does this—to some degree. For instance, rape and murder are always felonies, while prostitution and solicitation are always misdemeanors. However, there is a large gray area in the California penal code of crimes known as “wobblers.”