The United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York announced that Avenatti was being charged with fraud and aggravated identity theft.
They claim Avenatti “used misrepresentations and a fraudulent document purporting to bear his client’s name and signature to convince his client’s literary agent to divert money owed to Avenatti’s client to an account controlled by Avenatti. Avenatti then spent the money principally for his own personal and business purposes.”
Stormy Daniels is not named but a source told NBC News she was the person referenced as “Victim-1.” According to NBC News, Stormy only received half of the money she was supposed to get from the publisher.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said in a statement: “Michael Avenatti abused and violated the core duty of an attorney – the duty to his client. As alleged, he used his position of trust to steal an advance on the client’s book deal. As alleged, he blatantly lied to and stole from his client to maintain his extravagant lifestyle, including to pay for, among other things, a monthly car payment on a Ferrari. Far from zealously representing his client, Avenatti, as alleged, instead engaged in outright deception and theft, victimizing rather than advocating for his client.”
Michael Avenatti tweeted after the indictment was handed down, saying, “I look forward to a jury hearing all of the evidence and passing judgment on my conduct. At no time was any money misappropriated or mishandled. I will be fully exonerated once the relevant emails, contracts, text messages, and documents are presented.”