Michael Avenatti, the disgraced lawyer who made a name for himself representing a number of different celebrity clients, has reportedly decided to drop his own attorneys in the middle of a trial in which he is being accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from his former client and Donald Trump accuser Stormy Daniels.
According to Law360, the disgraced former lawyer turned convicted felon chose to drop his lawyers on Tuesday, deciding to instead represent himself in his current trial in which he is accused of impersonating the pornographic film actress and stealing upwards of $300k in publisher’s payments that were meant for her for a book contract he helped to secure.
“This is a case about a lawyer who stole from his client,” Andrew Rohrbach, the lawyer prosecuting Avennati, said in a Federal District Court in Manhattan on Monday, according to The New York Times. “A lawyer who lied to cover up his scheme.”
Rohrback also argued that “there was no agreement for the defendant to get any piece of Ms. Daniels’s book money,” and claimed that the disgraced celebrity lawyer clearly impersonated his client so as to steal the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“Mr. Avenatti didn’t steal Stormy Daniels’ money,” Andrew Dalack, who was one of Avenatti’s lawyers before being fired Tuesday, argued in his then-client’s defense.
“He didn’t defraud her,” he added, before adding that Daniels is nothing more than a “disgruntled former client” in a “free dispute” with the defendant.
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In July 2021, the disgraced lawyer was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison for attempting to extort millions of dollars from sportswear giant Nike.
"Mr. Avenatti's conduct was outrageous," US District Judge Paul Gardephe said at the time of the guilty conviction. "Mr. Avenatti had become drunk on the power of his platform, or what he perceived his platform to be."
Following his guilty conviction, and allegedly after breaking down in tears during the trial, Avenatti admitted to destroying his own career.
"I betrayed my own values, my friends, my family and myself," he said. "I, and I alone, have destroyed my career, my relationships, my life."