Lawyer Michael Avenatti receives 4-year sentence for defrauding porn star Stormy Daniels of £238k

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Michael Avenatti received a four year sentence for defrauding Stormy Daniels  (REUTERS)
Michael Avenatti received a four year sentence for defrauding Stormy Daniels (REUTERS)

Michael Avenatti has received a four-year prison term for defrauding porn actor Stormy Daniels, whom he represented in a legal battle with Donald Trump.

The California lawyer was found guilty of stealing book proceeds from Ms Daniels “out of desperation” while his law firm was struggling financially.

Mr Avenatti, who is already incarcerated on a separate fraud conviction, was catapulted to fame after representing Ms Daniels in a series of heated courtrooms battles with the former US President.

Speaking after the sentencing at a Manhattan courthouse, Judge Jesse M. Furman said the sentence will mean that Avenatti will spend another two-and-a-half years in prison on top of the two-and-a-half years he is already serving.

He said that Mr Avenatti’s crime had come at a time of “desperation” but labelled his behaviour “craven and egregious”, accusing him of “blind ambition”.

Stormy Daniels and her attorney Michael Avenatti leave federal court in New York, on April 16, 2018 (AP)
Stormy Daniels and her attorney Michael Avenatti leave federal court in New York, on April 16, 2018 (AP)

Mr Avenatti, wearing a beige prison uniform, said he had “disappointed scores of people and failed in a cataclysmic way”.

At a trial earlier this year, Mr Avenatti represented himself and grilled his former client for hours over their experiences in 2018, when she signed a book deal that provided a £635,000 payout.

Prosecutors said that Mr Avenatti had illegally pocketed around £238,000 of her advance for the book, “Full Disclosure”, published in Autumn 2018.

He rose to fame for representing Daniels in lawsuits meant to free her from a £103,000 hush payment she received before the 2016 presidential election to remain silent about a tryst she had with Mr Trump a decade earlier.

Mr Trump denied having any relationship with Ms Daniels.

In a sentencing submission last week, Ms Daniel’s attorneys said that, during an “extremely lengthy” cross-examination”, Mr Avenatti had “berated his victim for lewd language and being a difficult client” and “sought to cast her as crazy”.

“The defendant certainly had every right to defend himself at trial,” they wrote.

“But he is not entitled to a benefit for showing remorse, having done so only when convenient and only after seeking to humiliate his victim at a public trial, and denigrating and insulting her for months to her agent and publisher while holding himself out as taking up her cause against the powerful who might have taken advantage of her.”

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