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Once allies, Stormy Daniels and Avenatti clash at trial

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NEW YORK (AP) Stormy Daniels, the porn star who catapulted herself and Michael Avenatti to fame with lawsuits against former President Donald Trump, will have a starring role in court starting Monday when prosecutors try to prove that the California lawyer cheated her out of $300,000 in book proceeds.

His testimony in Manhattan federal court will be crucial for prosecutors trying to prove Avenatti engaged in wire fraud and aggravated identity theft to avoid giving his client the money he had. received from his publisher. Opening statements are scheduled for Monday. Daniels is not expected to testify until Tuesday, at the earliest.

Avenatti, 50, has pleaded not guilty to the charges in what will be his third criminal trial in two years.

I am completely innocent of these charges,” Avenatti said in a statement released by a publicist over the weekend. “The government is spending millions of dollars prosecuting me for a case that should never have been filed. Meanwhile, they continue to allow Trump and his co-conspirators to walk free and face no consequences for their criminal conduct. It is not fair.

In early 2020, he was found guilty of attempting to extort up to $25 million from Nike by threatening to tarnish the sportswear giant’s reputation unless it met his demands. He has not yet started serving a 2.5 year prison sentence. Last year, a lawsuit ended in California for deceiving customers there. He is awaiting a new trial.

The attorney-client relationship between Daniels and Avenatti appeared solid in the spring of 2018 when the pair appeared together at a Manhattan court hearing regarding raids on the home and office of Michael Cohen, Trump’s longtime personal attorney. .

Cohen had played a role in a silent payment of $130,000 to Daniels to buy his silence 11 days before the 2016 presidential election. He eventually pleaded guilty to charges and spent a year behind bars before completing his sentence. three years in house arrest.

With the help of Avenatti, Daniels sued Trump in an attempt to regain her freedom to speak openly about what she considered a brief affair with Trump a decade earlier. Following the 2018 litigation, a Los Angeles judge ordered Trump to pay Daniels $44,100 in legal fees. Trump denied the sexual encounter.

With Daniels as a client and his growing reputation as a critic of Trump, Avenatti found himself in demand on cable television news programs. He became so popular in some circles that he considered running for president.

After Daniels signed a book deal, the couple remained close, and Avenatti was enlisted to write the lead for Full Disclosure, which was released in the fall of 2018. In the book, Daniels revealed details about this which she described as her sexual encounter with Trump. and subsequent communications.

But six months after the book’s publication, Avenatti has been charged in three criminal cases, including the fraud he allegedly committed against Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford.

After his arrest, Avenatti insisted in Twitter posts that no money related to Daniels had ever been misappropriated or mishandled and that he was working mostly without pay for Daniels with an agreement that he would receive a percentage of the product of any book. He said he looked forward to a jury hearing the evidence.

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