By Luc Cohen
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Michael Avenatti, the brash celebrity lawyer who rose to fame taking on Donald Trump before a slew of criminal charges destroyed his legal career, was ordered on Friday to pay $148,750 in restitution to his best-known client, porn actress Stormy Daniels.
Avenatti, 51, was convicted by a Manhattan federal jury in February of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft for embezzling $297,500 in book proceeds from Daniels, who testified that Avenatti “stole from me and lied to me.”
U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman in June sentenced Avenatti to four years in prison, calling his conduct “brazen and egregious.”
The sentence also required Avenatti to forfeit the $297,500, but the restitution is lower because he repaid some of the money to Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford. Avenatti is appealing the conviction and sentence.
Daniels is known for receiving $130,000 from Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen before the 2016 presidential election in exchange for keeping quiet about an affair she claimed to have had with the future U.S. president, which he denied.
Avenatti successfully freed Daniels from a non-disclosure agreement with Trump, paving the way for her 2018 memoir “Full Disclosure,” where she described the alleged liaison.
Lawyers for Avenatti and Daniels did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Before the trial, Avenatti had already been serving a 2-1/2 year sentence after being convicted in 2020 of trying to extort millions of dollars from Nike Inc.
Avenatti was also ordered to pay $259,800.50 in restitution to Nike, but the athletic wear company agreed that his individual victims could get paid first.
Parts of the prison sentences run concurrently, and Avenatti is expected to serve a total of five years behind bars.
He also faces a scheduled Nov. 7 sentencing in California after pleading guilty in June to five federal charges there, including four counts of wire fraud for defrauding clients.
(Reporting by Luc Cohen in New York; Editing by Mark Porter)
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