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Stormy Daniels and Michael Avenatti
Stormy Daniels and Michael Avenatti in 2018

A federal jury in New York has found celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti guilty of defrauding his former client, the adult film star Stormy Daniels.

Avenatti, 50, represented Ms Daniels in lawsuits against then-president Donald Trump after she went public with allegations of an affair between them.

On Friday, jurors found him guilty of stealing nearly $300,000 (£225,000) from Ms Daniels.

He now faces up to 22 years in federal prison.

It marks the second time Avenatti has been convicted in federal court, a humbling fall from grace for a man once rumoured to be considering a 2020 presidential run.

The California lawyer became a familiar face on cable news and social media after he leveraged his representation of Ms Daniels into a platform as a top Trump critic.

Ms Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, was paid $130,000 days before the presidential election by Mr Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, in order to keep quiet.

Avenatti represented her in her successful bid to throw out the non-disclosure agreement and helped negotiate an $800,000 (£591,000) advance for her 2018 book Full Disclosure.

But prosecutors showed that, unbeknownst to Ms Daniels, he forged her signature on the publishing contracts and directed almost $300,000 (£225,000) from her literary agent into his coffers.

Avenatti fired his court-appointed attorneys in the case and chose to represent himself.

In dramatic testimony last week, Ms Daniels faced off against him on the witness stand, saying: “He lied to me and stole from me”.

He was found guilty of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.

Previously, Avenatti served time in prison over an attempt to extort $25m from Nike, but was released early due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Source: bbc.co.uk

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