Michael Avenatti sentenced to 4 years in prison for embezzling nearly $300,000 from adult film actress Stormy Daniels

Michael Avenatti sentenced to 4 years in prison for embezzling nearly $300,000 from adult film actress Stormy Daniels
Adult film actress Stormy Daniels, accompanied by her former attorney, Michael Avenatti, right, talks to the media as she leaves federal court, on April 16, 2018 in New York.AP Photo/Mary Altaffer
  • A federal judge in Manhattan has sentenced Michael Avenatti to four years prison.
  • A jury convicted Avenatti in February of pocketing $300,000 of Daniels' book advance.

Michael Avenatti, the California lawyer who rode to fame on the glittery hem of his client, Stormy Daniels, was sentenced to 4 years in prison on Thursday for cheating the adult film actress out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in book proceeds.

Avenatti, 51, was sentenced in US District Court in Manhattan on his February conviction for wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. He had faced up to 22 years prison, federal prosecutors had said when he was indicted in 2019.

The far lesser sentence from Judge Jesse M. Furman — who called the attorney-client betrayal "despicable" — followed Avenatti's emotional plea for mercy.

"I will forever be branded a disgraced lawyer," he said when asked to speak on his own behalf, dressed in a drab beige prison uniform and with his ankles in shackles.

Appearing to choke up, Avenatti added, "There is serious doubt as to how or if I will ever recover any semblance of a normal life or peace." Avenatti has been required to forfeit his law licence. Avenatti had represented Daniels — given name Stephanie Clifford — in her legal battles against then-president Donald Trump, who she had alleged paid her $130,000 to cover up their alleged affair.


The judge called Avenatti's crime against Daniels "craven and egregious," and said he will spend another 2 1/2 years in federal prison on top of the 2 1/2 years he is already serving after another fraud conviction, for trying to extort $25 million from Nike.

He still faces a retrial in California on charges he cheated clients and others out of millions of dollars.

"Far from being a loyal advocate for his client, Michael Avenatti stole his client's identity and her money in order to line his own pockets," said US Attorney Damian Williams. "Now, Avenatti will serve a substantial prison sentence for his brazen crimes and betrayal of his client."

The publicity from that lawsuit catapulted the brash, outspoken attorney to numerous television appearances and, briefly, a considered 2020 presidential bid. Trump has denied having an affair with Daniels, though he admitted to reimbursing his lawyer for the $130,000 payment, which he said wasn't connected to his campaign.

Avenatti was representing Daniels in 2018 when she signed a book deal that came with a $800,000 payout. Facing cash-flow problems at his law firm at the time, Avenatti pocketed nearly $300,000 from the deal for the book, "Full Disclosure," federal prosecutors said.


Daniels was not in court on Thursday, but her lawyer, Clark Brewster, was allowed to speak on her behalf, and called it "truly shocking" that Avenatti tried to portray himself during the sentencing as a good lawyer who championed his clients.

Wire services contributed to this report.