Michael Avenatti has been convicted of stealing roughly $300,000 from his former client Stormy Daniels. The core of the case was that Avenatti had helped Daniels negotiate a book deal with an $800,000 advance. However, he then asked the publisher to deposit two of the payments of that advance into his own bank accounts and lied to Daniels, telling her the publisher was simply failing to send the money.
Prosecutors showed jurors documents related to the book deal, as well as a series of text messages between Avenatti and Daniels, which proved how he repeatedly lied to his client about the money.
When she didn’t receive the payments on time, Daniels asked Avenatti about the missing cash, according to the text messages.
“I did not get paid today. I am not f–king happy,” she said in one of the messages about a month after she was due to receive her second payment in 2018.
“The publisher owes me a payment … This is bulls–t,” she wrote in another.
Instead of coming clean about the theft, Avenatti told her he would “figure out” what happened – even though he had already received and spent the money.
Avenatti, acting as his own lawyer, did his best to make Daniels look like a nutcase during the trial. He asked a bunch of questions about her recent career reinvention as the host of a paranormal investigation program called the Spooky Babes show.
Earlier today there was some unexpected drama in the courtroom. Jurors wrote a note to the judge saying that one female member of the jury had refused to look at evidence or deliberate.
“We have one juror who is refusing to look at evidence and is acting on a feeling. We need assistance on moving forward. She does not believe she needs to prove her side using evidence and refuses to show us how she has come to her conclusion,” the note said, according to Judge Jesse Furman.
“Please help us move forward not going on any evidence, all emotions and does not understand this job of a jury,” the note added, with the word “please” underlined.
Avenatti moved for a mistrial arguing that the jury is clearly deadlocked, and any further instruction or action would be coercive…
Just before noon, the judge brought the jury into the courtroom to instruct jurors of their duties to deliberate based on the evidence and charge them to continue pushing forward. The instruction in part reminded jurors they are not “to be swayed by sympathy or emotion” when considering evidence to reach a verdict.
The judge’s decision not to grant the request for a mistrial and his instructions to the jury seem to have worked. Obviously, the one holdout juror was preventing the other jurors from reaching a guilty verdict for some reason we may never know.
The judge also denied another request by Avenatti for a mistrial, this time over an interview which Stormy Daniels gave to CNN Friday. In that interview, Daniels said she was very surprised the jury hadn’t gone out and come back in 20 minutes because it was such an open and shut case. She said that even without her testimony, the evidence that the money went into Avenatti’s bank account and text messages showing he lied to her about it proves he was guilty.
A sentencing date hasn’t been announced yet but Avenatti faces a maximum of 22 years. After the verdict today he announced his intention to appeal.
Avenatti emerges, says, I am very disappointed in the verdict and look forward to a full adjudication on appeal.”
— Inner City Press (@innercitypress) February 4, 2022
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