Attorneys for Michael Avenatti are seeking leniency in the convicted lawyer’s sentencing trial next month, citing an apology letter he sent to porn star Stormy Daniels, whom he allegedly defrauded.
The judge should not sentence Avenatti to more than 4.5 years for all the charges he is facing due to the reputational damage he suffered from the most recent convictions of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft in the case against Daniels, his lawyers said. They included a letter Avenatti had sent to Daniels in which he acknowledged “mistakes [he] made” and said he was “truly sorry.”
“This sobering reality is as sufficient and powerful a punishment and deterrence as any,” his lawyers said. “Worse, Mr. Avenatti’s extreme rise and fall played out on the most public of platforms, an experience he is unlikely to ever recover from reputationally.”
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Avenatti was found guilty in February after Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, accused him of stealing nearly $300,000 of the $800,000 advance on her book deal for her autobiography, Full Disclosure, and misled her about what he did with the money. The convicted lawyer defended himself in the trial, justifying his actions by citing several steps he took on Daniels’s behalf.
Avenatti became nationally known after representing Daniels in 2018 in multiple lawsuits against then-President Donald Trump alleging he paid the actress $130,000 in 2016 to keep an affair between the two 10 years prior a secret while he ran for office. Trump denied the accusations.
The California lawyer also faces other criminal charges after he was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison on charges of extorting from Nike up to $25 million.
For his latest charges, Avenatti faces a 22-year sentence, which his lawyers argue is excessive and unnecessary.
“Mr. Avenatti understands that some may view his remorse as too little too late, and that the Court may look skeptically on his contrition given the way in which Mr. Avenatti’s trial transpired,” his lawyers wrote. “Nevertheless, Mr. Avenatti is genuinely remorseful, especially for the pain his actions have caused his family and close friends.”
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Avenatti is set to appear in court on June 2 to receive his sentencing. Prosecutors are expected to file their recommendations by the end of this month.