A federal grand jury in Manhattan indicted celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti on Wednesday in two alleged schemes, charging him with fraud and aggravated identity theft involving his former client, Stormy Daniels, and with attempting to extort more than $20 million from sportswear giant Nike.
Avenatti was charged with having stolen "a significant portion" of Daniels' advance for her book contract, according to court papers, and used that money to pay employees of his law firm and a coffee business he owned. Daniels isn't named in the indictment, but she is the individual referred to as "Victim-1," according to a person familiar with the matter.
In all, Avenatti stole "approximately $300,000" from Daniels, the indictment states, and has failed to repay her half of that sum.
Avenatti rose to fame during his representation of Daniels, the adult-film actress who was a central figure in the hush-money scandal that resulted in Manhattan federal prosecutors charging Michael Cohen -- President Donald Trump's former personal attorney -- with campaign-finance violations for money he paid to silence women, including Daniels, who claimed affairs with Trump.
Cohen, who pleaded guilty to those and other crimes, is serving a three-year prison sentence. Trump has denied the alleged affairs.
Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, has since ended her professional relationship with Avenatti, saying that he "had dealt with me extremely dishonestly."