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Judge blocks Michael Avenatti change of venue bid in Stormy Daniels case

2019-09-25

A federal judge on Tuesday rejected attorney Michael Avenatti’s bid to move to California a case involving charges that he embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars in book proceeds from porn star Stormy Daniels.

Avenatti was indicted in May on charges that he cheated the adult film star out of $300,000 that was owed to her through a Manhattan-based book deal.

Until he fell out with his client, Avenatti had represented Daniels amid allegations that a fixer for President Trump had paid her hush money to keep quiet about their alleged affair with the president.

U.S. District Judge Deborah Batts said a trial on the charges, which include wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, should be held in New York.

Avenatti lives in California, where he faces various other criminal charges including allegations that he embezzled millions of dollars from clients, failed to pay taxes and concealed assets from bankruptcy court.

He has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

Avenatti is also charged with trying to extort up to $25 million from Nike with threats to reveal allegations that the shoe giant facilitated payments to the families of college basketball players to steer them toward Nike-sponsored schools.

Avenatti had been pressing Nike for records related to the case, but dropped his subpoena because prosecutors already have the documents he needs.