Tag Archives: fraud

Michael Avenatti charged with stealing clients' payouts in massive fraud case

Michael Avenatti charged with stealing clients' payouts in massive fraud caseAttorney Michael Avenatti has been charged in a 36-count federal indictment alleging he stole millions of dollars from clients, did not pay his taxes, committed bank fraud and lied in bankruptcy proceedings. Avenatti, 48, was indicted late Wednesday by a Southern California grand jury on a raft of additional charges following his arrest last month in New York on two related counts and for allegedly trying to shake down Nike for up to $ 25 million. The attorney best known for representing porn actress Stormy Daniels in lawsuits against President Donald Trump said Thursday on Twitter that he will plead not guilty to the California charges. "I look forward to the entire truth being known as opposed to a one-sided version meant to sideline me," he wrote. The new charges do not include the New York extortion case alleging Avenatti demanded millions to stay quiet about claims he planned to reveal about Nike paying high school players. Avenatti has said he expects to be cleared in that case. The 61-page Southern California indictment alleges Avenatti embezzled from a paraplegic man and four other clients and deceived them by shuffling money between accounts to pay off small portions of what they were due to lull them into thinking they were getting paid. Avenatti, 48, is also charged with not paying personal income taxes, not paying taxes for his various businesses, including two law firms, and pocketing payroll taxes from the Tully's Coffee chain that he owned, the indictment said. Between September 2015 and January 2018, Global Baristas US, the company that operated Tully's, failed to pay the Internal Revenue Service $ 3.2 million in payroll taxes, including nearly $ 2.4 million withheld from employees, the indictment said. When the IRS put tax levies on coffee company bank accounts to collect more than $ 5 million, Avenatti had Tully's employees deposit cash receipts in a little-known account, the indictment said. Avenatti was also charged with submitting fraudulent tax returns to get more than $ 4 million in loans from The Peoples Bank in Biloxi, Mississippi, in 2014. The tax returns he presented to the bank were never filed to the IRS, prosecutors have said. The charges are the latest major blow to a career that took off last year when Avenatti represented Daniels in her lawsuit to break a confidentiality agreement with Trump to stay mum about an affair they allegedly had. Avenatti became one of Trump's leading adversaries, attacking him on cable news programs and Twitter. At one point, Avenatti even considered challenging Trump in 2020. But back home, his business practices had come under scrutiny from the IRS and a former law partner who was owed $ 14 million by Avenatti and the Eagan Avenatti firm, which filed for bankruptcy. The indictment said Avenatti made false statements in bankruptcy proceedings by submitting forms under penalty of perjury that under reported income his firm received. The most glaring example of deception and fraud was described in the indictment as scheming Avenatti allegedly did to deprive clients of money they were due from legal settlements or sales of stock and the actions he took to cover his tracks. In a case involving one client, Avenatti allegedly funneled a $ 2.75 million settlement into his bank accounts and spent $ 2.5 million on a private airplane, the indictment said. Although Avenatti was due a portion of settlement funds for his work, the charges said he paid only a fraction of the money clients were due in some cases and strung them along while they waited to be paid. Avenatti allegedly drained a $ 4 million settlement he negotiated in 2015 on behalf of Geoffrey Johnson, who was paralyzed after trying to kill himself in the Los Angeles County jail, the indictment said. Johnson was referred to as "Client 1" in the indictment, but was named at a recent court hearing involving the money Avenatti was ordered to pay his former partner. Until last month, Avenatti had only provided $ 124,000 over 69 payments to Johnson, the indictment said. Two years after the settlement was reached, Avenatti allegedly helped Johnson find a real estate agent to buy a house. But when Johnson was in escrow to purchase the property, Avenatti falsely said he had not received the settlement funds, the indictment said. In November, when the U.S. Social Security Administration requested information to determine if Johnson should continue to receive disability benefits, Avenatti said he would respond, but didn't because he knew it could lead to the discovery of his embezzlement, the indictment said. The failure to respond led to Johnson's disability benefits being cut off in February. After Avenatti was questioned about the alleged embezzlement during a judgment-debtor examination in federal court March 22, the indictment said he fabricated a defense for himself. Avenatti had Johnson sign a document a day or two later saying he was satisfied with his representation, which the lawyer told him was necessary to get the settlement that had in fact been paid four years earlier, the indictment said. When asked by The Associated Press last month about Johnson's case, Avenatti said his client approved all transactions and accounting and had been kept in the loop. "He has repeatedly thanked me for my dedication to his case and the ethics I have employed," Avenatti wrote in an email response.



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Woman who posed as black makes plea deal in fraud case

Woman who posed as black makes plea deal in fraud caseSPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — A former NAACP leader in Washington state who was exposed in 2015 as a white woman pretending to be black has reached an agreement to avoid trial on charges of welfare fraud.



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Lawyer Avenatti arrested, accused of fraud and of extorting Nike

Lawyer Avenatti arrested, accused of fraud and of extorting NikeMichael Avenatti, who shot to fame as the lawyer of adult film star Stormy Daniels, was arrested on Monday on charges of trying to extort more than $ 20 million from Nike and for embezzling a client’s money. The celebrity attorney, who represented Daniels in her lawsuit against President Donald Trump, was arrested in New York based on separate complaints filed in that city as well as California. According to the complaint filed in New York and involving the sports apparel giant, Avenatti devised a scheme to extort millions of dollars from Nike by threatening to damage the company’s reputation right before its quarterly earnings and the start of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.



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Avenatti arrested and charged with extortion, embezzlement, bank and tax fraud

Avenatti arrested and charged with extortion, embezzlement, bank and tax fraudThe lawyer who represented Stormy Daniels faces the prosepect of spending the rest of his life behind bars.



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Avenatti arrested and charged with extortion, embezzlement, bank and tax fraud

Avenatti arrested and charged with extortion, embezzlement, bank and tax fraudThe lawyer who represented Stormy Daniels faces the prosepect of spending the rest of his life behind bars.



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Manafort sentencing: Trump's former campaign manager gets 73 months in prison over fraud case

Manafort sentencing: Trump's former campaign manager gets 73 months in prison over fraud caseDonald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort has been sentenced to 73 months on two charges, including conspiracy against the United States and conspiracy to obstruct justice after he attempted to tamper with witnesses. Manafort’s total sentence in the two hearings he has faced in recent weeks amounts to 90 months — or seven years and six months — in prison. Manafort asked Judge Amy Berman Jackson for mercy on Wednesday, saying the criminal charges against him have “taken everything from me already.” He pleaded with the judge not to impose any additional prison time beyond the roughly four-year sentence he received in a separate case last week.



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Musk's lawyers say tweet complied with SEC fraud settlement

Musk's lawyers say tweet complied with SEC fraud settlementDETROIT (AP) — Tesla CEO Elon Musk should not be found in contempt of court because he has complied with the terms of a securities fraud settlement, his attorneys wrote in documents filed Monday night with the U.S. District Court in Manhattan.



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Paul Manafort sentencing: Trump's former campaign manager sentenced to less than four years in jail for fraud

Paul Manafort sentencing: Trump's former campaign manager sentenced to less than four years in jail for fraudPaul Manafort, Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, has been sentenced by a judge to 47 months in jail – considerably less than prosecutors had sought for the 69-year-old known for wearing $ 10,000 suits. In what came as nothing less than a jolt to observers – prosecutors had requested he be jailed for up to 25 years – the man who served as Mr Trump’s campaign chief for a short but crucial few months, appeared to have been successful in his appeal to the federal judge TS Ellis to show mercy. There was no immediate reaction from either special counsel Robert Mueller or the president.



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In questioning Cohen, Ocasio-Cortez focuses on potential Trump fraud

In questioning Cohen, Ocasio-Cortez focuses on potential Trump fraudIn a day filled with theatrics, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., the youngest woman to be elected to the House, focused her allotted five minutes for questioning Michael Cohen on details that could fuel future fraud investigations of the president.



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North Carolina Republican operative charged in election fraud scheme

North Carolina Republican operative charged in election fraud schemeThe operative, Leslie McCrae Dowless, was charged with three felony counts of obstruction of justice, two counts of conspiring to commit obstruction of justice and two counts of possession of absentee ballots, according to court documents. Allegations that operatives working for Dowless illegally collected, and sometimes filled in, absentee ballots on behalf of Republican Mark Harris’ campaign emerged shortly after the Nov. 6 election. The state Board of Elections, during four days of hearings last week, heard evidence of what election officials called a well-funded and well-organized campaign to tip the election for the state’s 9th District in the U.S. House of Representatives, which stretches southeast from Charlotte.



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