US & Canada

Michael Avenatti, Stormy Daniels ex-lawyer, charged with defrauding her

Adult film actress Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels, speaks to media along with lawyer Michael Avenatti (R) outside federal court in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, on 16 April 2018 Image copyright Reuters

US lawyer Michael Avenatti has been charged with defrauding Stormy Daniels, the porn star he represented in a lawsuit against President Donald Trump, federal prosecutors say.

They say Mr Avenatti, 48, took the money Ms Daniels was supposed to get from a book deal.

The high-profile lawyer already faces a number of fraud and embezzlement charges, including accusations of attempting to extort Nike.

He has denied all the allegations.

What's the latest case?

The indictment announced by New York prosecutors on Wednesday said Mr Avenatti was accused of using "misrepresentations and a fraudulent document purporting to bear his client's name and signature to convince his client's literary agent to divert money owed to Avenatti's client to an account controlled by Avenatti".

"Avenatti then spent the money principally for his own personal and business purposes," it adds.

The money alleged to have been diverted amounted to about $300,000 (£237,000).

Writing on Twitter, Mr Avenatti said: "No monies relating to Ms Daniels were ever misappropriated or mishandled. She received millions of dollars worth of legal services and we spent huge sums in expenses."

What other charges does he face?

The latest charge sheet revealed that Mr Avenatti had been hit with extortion charges relating to the Nike case, which was originally announced in March when he was arrested.

He has been accused of trying to blackmail the global sporting products maker out of more than $20m by threatening to use his profile to inflict reputational harm on the firm.

He also faces dozens of charges in Los Angeles of embezzling money from clients and defrauding a bank.

If convicted on all charges, he could face hundreds of years in prison.

Who is he?

A frequent guest on TV news and talk shows, Mr Avenatti emerged as a fierce critic of Donald Trump and said at one point he was considering running for president in 2020.

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Media captionMichael Avenatti: What you need to know

The lawyer formerly represented Stormy Daniels, who was suing the president to get out of a non-disclosure agreement she signed before the 2016 election. The non-disclosure agreement related to an affair she said she had with Mr Trump in 2006.

The president has denied having an affair.

The case was struck down by a US federal judge in March.

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