NEW YORK — Michael Avenatti, the attorney who rocketed to fame through his representation of porn star Stormy Daniels in her battles with President Trump, was charged Wednesday with ripping her off.
Federal prosecutors in New York City said Avenatti used a doctored document to divert about $300,000 that Daniels was supposed to get from a book deal, then used the money for personal and business expenses. Only half of that money was paid back, prosecutors said.
Daniels isn’t named in the court filing, but the details of the case, including the date her book was released, make it clear she is the client involved.
Avenatti denied the allegations on Twitter.
‘‘No monies relating to Ms. Daniels were ever misappropriated or mishandled. She received millions of dollars worth of legal services and we spent huge sums in expenses. She directly paid only $100.00 for all that she received,’’ he wrote.
Avenatti added in a later tweet that his agreement for representing Daniels ‘‘included a percentage of any book proceeds.’’
The charges pile on top of previous allegations of legal misconduct by Avenatti, who represented Daniels when she sued to be released from a nondisclosure agreement involving an alleged tryst with Trump. The president denies an affair took place.
Avenatti was previously charged in New York with trying to extort up to $25 million from Nike by threatening to expose claims that the shoemaker paid off high school basketball players to steer them to Nike-sponsored colleges. And in Los Angeles, he’s facing a multicount federal indictment alleging that he stole millions of dollars from clients, didn’t pay taxes, committed bank fraud, and lied during bankruptcy proceedings.
Avenatti has denied the allegations against him on both coasts. The Los Angeles charges alone carry a potential penalty of more than 300 years in prison.