January 28, 2022
Adult film actress Stormy Daniels said Thursday in a federal court in New York that former attorney Michael Avenatti stole publisher money from her book deal and repeatedly lied about it.
Daniels alleged during Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign to have had an affair with him in 2006, and Avenatti was her attorney.
“Michael Avenatti stole from me and lied to me,” Daniels told the court this week during questioning from Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Sobelman.
Daniels also was a key government witness in a criminal fraud case against Avenatti.
The 50-year-old Avenatti has pleaded not guilty to allegations that he stole close to $300,000 of the $800,000 advance paid to Daniels in 2018 for her book “Full Disclosure,” which included sordid details about the alleged affair with Trump, which he has denied.
Daniels told the court this week she became suspicious when the second and third installments of her payment never arrived.
Avenatti allegedly told her at the time that the publisher had sent the funds to his office and that he would deposit them to her account.
Avenatti, who has been granted his request to act as his own attorney, then cross-examined Daniels.
U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman granted Avenatti’s request following what the defendant described as a “breakdown” with his attorneys over his defense strategy.
He is facing charges of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.
The disgraced attorney’s cross-examination of Daniels began with a number of straightforward questions. When he asked if she had any records showing that he had agreed not to take any of the money from her book deal said she did not.
Avenatti was convicted in 2020 of extortion, transmission of interstate communications with intent to extort and wire fraud in connection to threats he made against sports brand Nike. In 2021, he was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison for those crimes.
The cross-examination is expected to continue Friday morning.