Former corporate media darling and anti-Trump lawyer Michael Avenatti has reportedly offered to plead guilty to multiple criminal charges still pending against him in California. He has already been convicted of offenses related to his representation of porn actress Stormy Daniels against President Donald Trump and attempts to extort money from Nike in litigation.
Avenatti achieved national fame when he represented Daniels in her attempt to set aside an agreement entered in October 2016 with Trump in which she received $130,000. In exchange, she agreed to dismiss all claims against Trump and to keep the terms of the agreement confidential. Trump has denied any improper relationship with Daniels.
As a result of his aggressive stance toward Trump, Avenatti became a regular guest on multiple corporate news media outlets for months. During the height of his popularity with the media, he publicly mused about making a presidential run of his own.
The California case involves 36 counts for alleged crimes including defrauding a bank, stealing millions of dollars from clients, and deceiving the IRS. Prosecutors have alleged that he stole almost $10 million in funds from at least five clients between 2015 and 2019.
Avenatti is currently representing himself in defending all of the charges.
Avenatti has submitted a court filing saying that he now would prefer to plead guilty in order to accept responsibility and be held accountable. He also said that he wants to “save the court and the government significant resources,” reduce the burden on his former clients, and save his family from further embarrassment.
The filing does not make it clear to which charges Avenattie has offered to plead guilty. He does say that he has been unable to reach an agreement with prosecutors on a plea deal and would like a hearing before the judge on the issue.
The trial on 10 of the charges has been scheduled to begin on July 26 after a mistrial last August.
A jury in federal court convicted Avenatti in February in the Daniels case of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft that caused Daniels to lose almost $300,000 from book proceeds due to her.
Avenatti is currently appealing the Nike case that resulted in a 30-month sentence and the Daniels case that resulted in an overlapping 4-year sentence imposed earlier this month.
He is currently incarcerated on the 2020 conviction in the Nike case and learned at the sentencing hearing in the Daniels case of the additional time he will have added to his current term.
A hearing on Avenatti’s request to change his plea in the case has been set for Thursday before U.S. District Court Judge James Selna.