Avenatti Compares Case Against Him to Cockroach-Infested Food

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Fallen celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti, who is on trial for allegedly stealing almost $300,000 from his star client Stormy Daniels, compared federal prosecutors’ charges against him to a plate of infested food during closing arguments on Wednesday morning.

“To conclude, I will leave you with this: I’m Italian. I like Italian food,” Avenatti told jurors at the end of his summation before he was cut off by Judge Jesse Furman, who advised him, “Mr. Avenatti, please stick to the evidence in this case.”

But Avenatti was undeterred in his dining analogy, in just one of many dramatic moments of his wire fraud and aggravated identity theft trial—which heard testimony about Daniels’ new project as a paranormal investigator, poltergeists, and a haunted doll named Susan.

Michael Avenatti Grills Stormy Daniels About Her Creepy Haunted Doll In Bonkers Day at Trial

“Ladies and gentlemen, the case that the government is attempting to feed you has a giant cockroach in the middle of the plate,” declared Avenatti, who dumped his public defenders and opted to represent himself last week. “Would you eat that dish or would you send it back? I submit that you would send it back.

“When you deliberate… I ask that you send it back and find me not guilty because, ladies and gentlemen, that is exactly what I am.”

Perhaps Avenatti had food on his mind, because he also opened with a story about his father being a hot dog vendor until Furman shut him down.

“When my father was a teenager, he sold hot dogs at a ballpark,” Avenatti said.

“Mr. Avenatti, stick to this case please,” Furman interrupted.

Avenatti skyrocketed to fame for representing Daniels in her 2018 legal tangles with then-President Trump, with whom she claims to have had an extramarital encounter. Daniels claimed Trump and his former minion, lawyer Michael Cohen, used an NDA to silence her in the weeks before the 2016 election; she hired Avenatti to quash the agreement.

The brash litigator is accused of swiping a portion of Daniels’ $800,000 advance for her memoir, Full Disclosure, by forging her signature on a letter to her publisher.

But in his defense, Avenatti claims he was entitled to a percentage of her book money based on all the legal work he did for her throughout 2018. For her part, Daniels says Avenatti promised never to take a penny from her book and instead planned to get paid from her online legal fundraiser and through any winnings from lawsuits against Trump.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Sobelman told jurors that Avenatti stole from Daniels and “got tangled in his own web of lies.”

“The defendant was a lawyer who stole from his own client,” Sobelman said in his closing. “She thought he was her advocate but he betrayed her, and he told lies to cover it all up.”

For months, prosecutors argue, Daniels asked for updates on her second and third book payments while Avenatti falsely claimed the publisher never paid up.

The government presented text messages throughout the 1.5-week trial revealing Daniels had repeatedly asked Avenatti for help in getting her money. But all the while, Sobelman said, Avenatti had pocketed her cash and used it to pay his own expenses, including payouts to his ex-wife and girlfriend, and to his law firm’s driver.

“Are publishers trying not to pay me?” Daniels texted Avenatti in October 2018.

“No on the publishers,” Avenatt replied in part. “We are not going to have any issues.”

Sobelman told jurors, “The defendant kept the scheme going for months—lie after lie after lie.”

“He was pretending to fight for Ms. Daniels when he was the one scamming her,” Sobelman said, adding he knew she was counting on the money to buy a home.

As The Daily Beast reported, the debt-ridden Avenatti is accused of keeping Daniels’ second $150,000 book payment and using it to pay his bills. When Daniels began inquiring about this installment, Avenatti desperately sought cash to repay her, asking his friend Sean Macias for a personal loan. Macias testified that he arranged for prominent California lawyer Mark Geragos—who became involved in Avenatti’s Nike extortion scheme but wasn’t charged—to loan Avenatti $250,000, which he then used to pay Daniels and claim it came from the publisher.

Daniels, however, never received her third installment of nearly $150,000.

When Daniels finally got proof from her publisher that Avenatti had been wired her money and confronted him, Avenatti “played dumb,” Sobelman said.

Avenatti told jurors “the government is only telling you part of the story” before targeting Daniels and attacking her credibility once more.

“Let’s talk for a moment about Ms. Daniels,” Avenatti said. “Some of you may admire Ms. Daniels. I understand that. The evidence shows I did too for a long time. The evidence shows I was her advocate… her champion. I put it all on the line for Ms. Daniels because I believed in her and wanted to help her.”

Daniels, Avenatti argued, has been “less than honest” with the jury.

“Ms. Daniels was about to embark on a fight against the president of the United States, the most powerful person on the planet,” Avenatti crowed. “I agreed to take on that fight … but I didn’t agree to do it for free.”

Avenatti claimed he never intended to defraud Daniels but that per their fee agreement, he was owed a percentage of her book. The agreement doesn’t spell out what Avenatti believes he was owed but indicated he could receive a “reasonable percentage” they would both agree upon.

“The government presented no evidence of what a reasonable percentage would be,” Avenatti said. “They want you to determine a reasonable percentage is zero.”

He later claimed that his firm spent “millions of dollars in time and costs advanced for the benefit” of Daniels including on her 24/7 security guards “because she wanted an entourage.”

Avenatti argued that Daniels closed the bank account to which the publisher wired her the first of four payments because her husband was siphoning her funds. The ex-hubby, Glenn, filed to divorce Daniels and ran off with their daughter.

The lawyer claimed he then set up a client-trust account to receive Daniels’ future funds. (Daniels says she was never informed of such a bank account.)

Avenatti said Daniels’ latest role as a paranormal investigator on her Spooky Babes TV show, which is in production, shows “she is not credible.”

“She claims to have the ability to talk to the dead,” Avenatti said. “She claims to have a doll that talks, plays the piano, and calls her mommy.”

“Does this sound like someone the government should use as their star witness in a criminal case?” Avenatti asked. After prosecutors objected, Furman reminded jurors that Avenatti—not the government itself—is on trial.

In the government’s rebuttal, prosecutor Matthew Podolsky compared Daniels’ February 2019 discovery that Avenatti had stolen her money to someone finding out their spouse or romantic partner was cheating on them. When Daniels texted Avenatti copies of wire transfers he had already received, Podolsky said, the lawyer responded, “Uh, I’ll look into it.”

“You don’t just take someone’s money because you think you worked hard,” Podolsky added.

Podolsky then referred to the “insults” that Avenatti heaped on Daniels during her roughly five hours of cross examination last week, including barbs about her interest in ghost hunting.

“Ask yourself what does that have to do with anything,” Podolsky said. “I don’t know what you all believe … if you think it’s kooky to believe in the paranormal.

“She can believe what she wants and still be stolen from.”

Podolsky concluded by telling jurors to ask themselves “one simple question”: If Avenatti thought he was entitled to Daniels’ money, then why did he lie about it?

“The answer is because he is guilty,” Podolsky said.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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