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Former Stormy Daniels attorney Michael Avenatti arrested by IRS agents

By
Don Jacobson
Attorney Michael Avenatti will appear in a California court Wednesday after spending the night in jail. File photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Attorney Michael Avenatti will appear in a California court Wednesday after spending the night in jail. File photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 15 (UPI) -- Attorney Michael Avenatti, who formerly represented an adult film star in a complaint against President Donald Trump, has been arrested by federal agents at a California courthouse for violating his bail, authorities said.

Avenatti -- an outspoken advocate who became widely known in 2018 for representing Stormy Daniels, and a vocal opponent of Trump's -- was arrested Tuesday night by agents of the Internal Revenue Service during a disciplinary hearing in Los Angeles.

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Avenatti is scheduled to appear in a Santa Ana, Calif., federal courtroom Wednesday after he spent the night in jail.

The disciplinary hearing sought to determine whether Avenatti should be placed on "involuntary inactive status" over accusations he misappropriated nearly $840,000 from a former client. The California State Bar has asked a judge to block Avenatti from practicing law, believing he poses a "threat of substantial harm to the public." The authority has also filed a separate case seeking to have Avenatti disbarred.

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During a break in the procedure, IRS agents entered and took Avenetti into custody -- authorities said for violating the terms of his bail in a case that charges him with federal extortion, fraud and embezzlement.

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In that case, filed last year, prosecutors in New York and California say Avenatti stole millions of dollars from clients, including Daniels, and tried to extort more than $20 million from shoe maker Nike by threatening to publicize claims it made payments to high school basketball players' families.

Avenatti has denied the charges and pleaded not guilty in court. He was free on a $300,000 bond while awaiting trial, which is scheduled for May.

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In 2018, Daniels received $130,000 from former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, purportedly to keep quiet about an extramarital affair she'd had with Trump. The scandal resulted in a conviction for Cohen on campaign finance charges, because he made the hush-money payment prior to the 2016 presidential election.

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