Celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti allegedly stole nearly $2 million from one of his former clients, according to his Apr. 10 indictment and bank records cited Sunday by The Los Angeles Times. In January 2017, the paper reports, the Miami Heat’s Hassan Whiteside wired Avenatti $2.75 million to settle the majority of a $3 million deal struck on behalf of his ex-girlfriend, Avenatti’s client Alexis Gardener. But instead of taking the approximately $1 million he was owed in lawyer’s fees and passing on the rest to Gardener, Avenatti allegedly kept the entire payment for himself, and bought a $2.5 million share of a private jet. He allegedly told Gardener that she would receive her funds in 96 monthly installments, and paid her about $194,000 over 11 months—but he later stopped paying, claiming that Whiteside was skipping payments. This isn’t the only time Avenatti’s been accused of taking money: prosecutors say he stole from five of his clients, including a mentally ill paraplegic man on disability, to help finance his lavish lifestyle. He now faces a litany of charges, including tax evasion, bank fraud, perjury, bankruptcy fraud, extortion, and conspiracy—all of which he denies—and faces up to 382 years in prison.
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