It’s been a wild few weeks for Michael Avenatti. The man who’s billed himself as a “street fighter” who can defeat President Trump, both as a candidate in 2020 and in court on behalf of Stormy Daniels, is mired in legal troubles that could shatter his political ambitions.
In November alone, Avenatti was up against domestic violence accusations, which he called “completely bogus”; a $4.85-million judgment in favor of a former colleague, who alleges Avenatti funneled money to different entities to avoid paying his debts; and a public rift with Daniels, who told The Daily Beast that he launched a fundraising site in her name without her permission and filed a defamation suit against Trump against her wishes. (On Sunday night, the pair appeared to have reconciled, tweeting their mutual support.)
These setbacks come on the heels of a potential criminal probe into Avenatti and his client Julie Swetnick, who claimed she witnessed then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh spike girls’ drinks at high-school parties so they could be “gang-raped” by groups of boys. After interviewing Swetnick, NBC News found inconsistencies in her statements.
It’s a stunning reversal for a man once widely hailed as a “fast and furious” warrior taking the fight to Trump. For most of 2018, the lawyer has managed to stay in the national spotlight with his political action committee, Twitter fan base and countless TV appearances, along with his representation of migrant children detained at the border.
But the controversies surrounding the 47-year-old California litigator don’t appear to be going away any time soon.
On Monday, Avenatti will appear in Los Angeles federal court to oppose what he’s called “staggering and grossly inflated” attorney’s fees that Daniels could owe for the failed defamation suit. Trump’s counsel, Charles Harder, wants Daniels to pay up $341,559. U.S. District Judge S. James Otero judge tossed the defamation case in October, and Avenatti has filed an appeal, which is pending.
Avenatti told The Daily Beast that he and Daniels will appeal Otero’s decision on the fees “regardless of the amount awarded.” He said that Trump and his former fixer, Michael Cohen, owe Daniels $1.5 million alone in attorney’s fees for her NDA lawsuit. “We have now forced Trump and Cohen to retreat in that case and basically admit we win. Thus they have to pay those attorneys fees and whatever Trump is awarded would be deducted from the $1,500,000 before Trump and Cohen have to write the check to Stormy,” Avenatti claimed.
He’ll also appear in Los Angeles Superior Court for a hearing on Daniels’ lawsuit against Cohen and her ex-attorney, Keith Davidson, who represented her in the “hush agreement” she signed before the 2016 election in exchange for $130,000. Daniels has accused Davidson of colluding with Cohen behind her back.
Then, on Friday, the pugnacious attorney is ordered to appear in Orange County Superior Court for a debtor’s examination related to unpaid child and spousal support in his divorce, records show. According to one September court filing, Avenatti owes his ex-wife more than $1 million. Asked for comment, Avenatti would only say, “Not accurate. There is nothing scheduled.”
And next week, there’s a hearing in Los Angeles for ex-girlfriend Mareli Miniutti’s temporary restraining order against him, court records indicate. (For his part, Avenatti has denied the 24-year-old actress’s claims that he called her an “ungrateful bitch” and struck her with pillows and claims the accusations were “fabricated” to destroy his reputation.) Los Angeles County prosecutors ultimately declined to file felony charges against Avenatti and have referred the case to the city attorney for a possible misdemeanor action.
“I obviously cannot comment in detail at this time but what I can say is I am entirely innocent and did nothing wrong,” Avenatti said in an email. “I will be exonerated, especially when the video that I have demanded be released is released.”
Avenatti then reiterated his claims that right-wing conspiracy theorist Jacob Wohl had orchestrated Miniutti’s domestic violence claims, which led to his arrest.
“Jacob Wohl will be held responsible for his nonsense committed against me and Mueller,” Avenatti added, referring to a clumsy and short-lived alleged plot by pro-Trump trolls to pay women to make up sexual misconduct claims against Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Avenatti doesn’t believe the stream of bad press has hurt his credibility. “Once all of the facts are known, I am confident that people will see all of this for what it was,” he told The Daily Beast. “I have confidence in the American people to see through the BS.”
“I am not going anywhere,” Avenatti added. “I am going to continue to speak truth to power and hold Trump and his cronies accountable. Fuck the haters.”
THE STORMY SAGA
Earlier this year, Michael Avenatti and Stormy Daniels seemed inseparable. The New York Times Magazine quoted fans on Twitter gushing, “You and Stormy may be the saviors of our democracy.” The pair appeared on The View to unveil a sketch of the “thug” who allegedly threatened Daniels, and to plug her tell-all, Full Disclosure. They smiled for the cameras as the mayor of West Hollywood honored Daniels with a key to the city.
The duo even crashed one of Michael Cohen’s hearings in Manhattan federal court, and afterward, Avenatti stood by Daniels’ side as she declared to a scrum of reporters that Cohen’s wrongful treatment of women like her “ends now.”
In recent days, his star client Daniels has twice indicated that she’s uncertain of her future with Avenatti.
Following Avenatti’s Nov. 14 arrest on domestic violence charges, Daniels released a statement: “These are serious and obviously very troubling allegations, but right now that is all they are: allegations.... We should all reserve judgment until the investigation—an investigation Michael has said he welcomes—is complete, and that’s what I’m going to do. But of course I do not condone violence against women and if these allegations prove true I will be seeking new representation.”
Two weeks later, Daniels told The Daily Beast she was again considering a split from Avenatti, claiming that he ignored her requests for accounting information from a CrowdJustice page that raised nearly $600,000 for her legal fund.
Instead of answering her queries, Daniels claimed in a statement, Avenatti started a second crowdfunding website to solicit donations without telling her.
After The Daily Beast reported Daniels’ claims, CrowdJustice said it was reviewing two of Avenatti’s online fundraisers, including one that raised $159,863 for families detained at the Mexican border. Avenatti said he deactivated his latest crowdfunding site, which sought cash for Daniels’ legal tangle with Trump and Cohen. Hearings in that matter, including one over a defamation claim against Cohen, are scheduled for January.
“I haven’t decided yet what to do about legal representation moving forward. Michael has been a great advocate in many ways. I’m tremendously grateful to him for aggressively representing me in my fight to regain my voice. But in other ways Michael has not treated me with the respect and deference an attorney should show to a client,” Daniels said in her statement to The Daily Beast.
Avenatti provided a statement of his own, which read in part: “I am and have always been Stormy’s biggest champion. I have personally sacrificed an enormous amount of money, time and energy toward assisting her because I believe in her. I have always been an open book with Stormy as to all aspects of her cases and she knows that. The retention agreement Stormy signed back in February provided that she would pay me $100.00 and that any and all other monies raised via a legal fund would go toward my legal fees and costs.”
In an email to The Daily Beast, Avenatti said he initially thought Daniels’ bombshell statement was a prank. He referenced Daniels’ praise of him to The New York Times in July, and an Oct. 8 interview with CNN’s Don Lemon where she indicated she’s sometimes in touch with Avenatti “three or four times a day.”
“I remain a champion for Stormy,” Avenatti said. “I have no idea where this came from and I thought it was a prank at first especially in light of her statements [to the outlets].”
On Sunday, Daniels claimed on Twitter that she and Avenatti “have sorted shit out” and that the crowdfunding accounting “is on the up and up.” She did not address her earlier claim that her lawyer had filed the defamation suit against her wishes.
After Daniels’ tweet and a similar one of his own, Avenatti emailed a Daily Beast reporter and wrote, “Please see Stormy and my tweets this evening. They bear on the issues in your story.”
Legal experts say that Avenatti could face dire consequences—including a suspension of his license or disbarment, or a malpractice suit from Daniels—if her claims about the defamation suit are true. The porn actress and director could also retain new counsel in a bid to make Avenatti responsible for the attorney’s fees in the defamation suit.
“If she could clearly demonstrate that this was a lawsuit that she had no part in authorizing... it’s possible that the court, in awarding fees, may decide she’s not the responsible party, but rather Mr. Avenatti as counsel might have to bear that burden,” said Neil Wertlieb, an adjunct professor at UCLA School of Law and an expert witness on, among other things, attorney ethics.
Stan Goldman, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, said Daniels’ retainer might have permitted Avenatti to act on her behalf. “We just don’t know the truth. Avenatti could have done everything right except having lost the case,” Goldman told The Daily Beast.
“All of this is speculation until we find out what’s going on. One would think that’s the end of her relationship with Avenatti,” Goldman said of Daniels, “and another notch against Avenatti becoming the presidential nominee in 2020.”
Daniels isn’t the only client who’s shared concerns over Avenatti.
In late October, Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) referred Avenatti and Swetnick to the Justice Department, saying they knowingly made false statements to Congress during Kavanaugh’s turbulent confirmation hearings. Grassley’s referral came after NBC News discovered discrepancies in the sworn statements and news interviews of Swetnick and another anonymous client of Avenatti’s, who claimed Avenatti “twisted my words” in a declaration furnished to support Swetnick’s story.
The unidentified woman said she only “skimmed” the declaration, which claimed she witnessed Kavanaugh and others “spike” drinks at house parties with “Quaaludes and/or grain alcohol.” The declaration added, “I understood this was being done for the purpose of making girls more likely to engage in sexual acts and less likely to say ‘No.’”
The client later told NBC, “It is incorrect that I saw Brett spike the punch. I didn’t see anyone spike the punch...I was very clear with Michael Avenatti from day one.” In response to her claims, Avenatti said he had “multiple audio recordings where she stated exactly what is in the declarations,” and that witnesses observed their discussions.
Avenatti told The Daily Beast federal authorities haven’t contacted him following Grassley’s referral. “This was nothing more than a stunt before the mid-terms,” Avenatti said. “The last thing Grassley, Trump and the GOP want is an investigation into Swetnick's allegations because any such investigation will show they are 100 percent true.
“I have been begging for such an investigation for months and have always called for due process in all cases,” he added. “I know Grassley is a slow-moving dinosaur who never went to law school, but this is ridiculous.”
Before he entered the fray over Kavanaugh, Avenatti began advocating for migrant families separated at the border. In June, as the plight of detained children dominated the news cycle, Avenatti said he was assisting 60 parents separated from their kids.
“This argument that somehow I’m chasing the limelight is a bunch of nonsense, and it’s offensive—highly offensive—to me,” Avenatti told the Washington Post after some outlets including the New York Post said he’d “inserted himself” into the fight.
Over the summer, immigration attorneys shared qualms over Avenatti's tactics, especially following a 9-year-old client’s return to Guatemala to reunite with his deported mother. “Obviously the reunification of the child is of paramount concern,” one immigration lawyer told Yahoo News. “But reuniting parent and child in the place that they fled because of unspeakable violence isn’t necessarily the answer either.”
Immigration lawyers also criticized Avenatti’s call for a “single staging area” to reunite families in detention centers, saying it contradicted activists’ fight to end the camps. One attorney told Observer that Avenatti’s plan was “fantastically irresponsible.”
Avenatti dismissed the scrutiny he’s faced from immigration experts and said he’s continuing to represent asylum seekers in 45 pending cases.
“Absurd and ridiculous,” Avenatti said of the backlash from some immigration attorneys. “The number [sic] goal of these families has been to be reunited with their children and vice versa. That is what we were asked to do as quickly as possible and that is what we do—we carry out our clients’ wishes.”
The week before Thanksgiving, Los Angeles police arrested Michael Avenatti on suspicion of domestic violence stemming from an alleged incident at his luxe apartment at a Century City high-rise. He was booked and released on $50,000 bail.
Initial reports, including one erroneous account from TMZ, suggested the victim was Avenatti’s estranged wife, Lisa Storie-Avenatti. Law enforcement sources told TMZ that the victim’s face was “swollen and bruised” when she filed a police report.
But the lawyer’s first and second ex-wives quickly released statements denying he was ever abusive. “I haven’t seen Michael in months. It’s a complete fabrication,” Storie-Avenatti told a CNN correspondent. “Bruises on my face? It is insanity. He wouldn’t hit anybody. Especially a woman. He’s got two daughters.”
His first wife, Christine Avenatti Carlin, spoke out in his defense, too, saying, “Michael has ALWAYS been a kind loving father to our two daughters and husband to me. He has NEVER been abusive to me or anyone else. He is a good man.”
Avenatti’s accuser was revealed days later, after she filed a petition for a restraining order against him in Los Angeles. Mareli Miniutti, an actress from Estonia, was granted a temporary protective order pending a hearing on Dec. 10.
In a court declaration, Miniutti said she began dating Avenatti in October 2017 until an alleged incident on Nov. 13, 2018, when she claims Avenatti berated her as an “ungrateful, fucking bitch” and pummeled her with pillows during an argument about money.
Miniutti claimed Avenatti grabbed her right arm, pulled her out of bed, and dragged her across the floor of the apartment and into the hallway. “I was wearing only my underwear and a t-shirt at the time, and suffered scratches to the bare skin on my side and leg,” she stated, adding that she rang a neighbor’s doorbell for help.
Avenatti allegedly dragged her back into the apartment and blocked the door to stop her from leaving. Her petition states that she returned to a guest room, put on her pants and left the residence. “Don’t do this Mareli, don’t involve them,” Avenatti allegedly warned, after he followed her into a service elevator to the building’s ground floor.
The accuser said the front desk called security, who brought her to another room, where she stayed until a friend picked her up. Once at her friend’s home, Miniutti decided to call police, who came over to take a statement.
Miniutti stated that she returned to Avenatti’s building the next day to retrieve her belongings, and that police arrived soon after to arrest him.
In her petition, Miniutti said Avenatti was “physically violent” toward her during another encounter in February. “At that time, I was living with Respondent in a different apartment in the same building. Respondent had been drinking, and he became angry at me. Respondent pushed me out of the apartment into the public hallway, where I hit my head against a door across the hallway. Respondent then threw my shoes at me, striking me in the leg,” Miniutti stated in the document.
She claimed Avenatti “has a history of being verbally abusive and financially controlling” toward her, and that he opposed her “desire to earn a living outside of Hollywood.” Avenatti, she said, “made promises to ‘take care of me’ financially and sometimes fails to follow through.”
“I continue to be afraid of [him] and do not want him to contact me,” Miniutti concluded.
Attorneys for Avenatti shared an alternate version of events with police and told CNN, “Ms. Miniutti and Mr. Avenatti had an argument while in Mr. Avenatti's apartment during which Ms. Miniutti behaved in a volatile, agitated and irrational manner. However, Mr. Avenatti did not inflict any corporal injury or cause any traumatic condition upon Ms. Miniutti.”
Evan Jenness, one of Avenatti’s lawyers, enlisted private investigators to gather intel about the incident, including video footage from the luxury building, and to interview potential witnesses, Vanity Fair reported. Jenness presented a five-page summary of their findings to detectives at the Los Angeles Police Department.
According to Vanity Fair’s report, the letter to cops provided possible explanations for the incident—including a new acne medication Miniutti had been taking, along with pain medications from a recent cosmetic surgery.
The letter included the statement of a security guard, who said Miniutti griped that Avenatti was no longer helping her with money. “We are concerned about potential animosity because Mr. Avenatti had promised [her] assistance in paying off a credit card debt she has accumulated, but obviously he has not done so in light of the emergency protective order and current events,” Avenatti’s attorney wrote.
Miniutti’s attorney, Michael Bachner, told CNN that she “stands by the accuracy of her statements to the LAPD.”
“The suggestions contained in Mr. Avenatti’s counsel’s letter to the LAPD are vindictive, contrary to the evidence, and unworthy of further reply,” Bachner said.
Even as Avenatti publicly battles the domestic violence allegations, a pair of million-dollar judgments have been issued against the lawyer and his former company.
Most recently, a $4.85-million judgment was entered against Avenatti in Los Angeles Superior Court stemming from a lawsuit brought by Jason Frank, a former Eagan Avenatti employee who says the firm stiffed him out of millions in profits.
A judge ruled Nov. 20 that Avenatti owes Frank $4.85 million, plus $204,287 in interest, a review of court papers shows. Avenatti claims that this judgment is “being appealed” and that he’s “confident it will be overturned.”
This whopping payout is in addition to a $10-million judgment that a U.S. bankruptcy judge entered against Eagan Avenatti in May for failing to make payments to Frank.
Last week, Frank accused Avenatti of funneling “tens of millions of dollars” from Eagan Avenatti’s coffers into other entities to avoid paying his debts.
Frank subpoenaed Avenatti and the California Bank & Trust, which is Eagan Avenatti’s primary bank, for the lawyer’s financial records, according to one Nov. 26 motion filed in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana.
“To date, Avenatti has not produced any documents in response to the Subpoena, nor has he offered to produce any documents,” the court filing states, adding that, “Due to Avenatti’s failure to honor the Subpoena, [Frank] served a separate subpoena on California Bank & Trust.”
California Bank & Trust provided Frank with Eagan Avenatti’s bank records from January 2013 through Sept. 28, 2018. But the bank didn’t provide records for the firm’s IOLTA account, which is a type of client-trust account used to deposit funds, including settlement checks.
“Based on this review, the bank statements indicate that Avenatti has funneled tens of millions of dollars from EA to various corporate entities owned and controlled by Avenatti,” Frank said in an attached declaration, using an underline for emphasis.
“For example, from 2013 to the present, there are approximately 405 transactions where EA collectively transferred over $21.4 Million to Avenatti & Associates, APC and approximately 98 transactions where EA collectively transferred over $8.6 Million to Global Baristas—a coffee company owned by Avenatti,” Frank continued. “There are also numerous transactions with other Avenatti owned companies, such as Passport 420, LLC and GB Autosport LLC. Based on my research and personal knowledge, Passport 420 LLC is the entity through which Avenatti owns his Honda jet airplane and GB Autosport is the entity that operates Avenatti’s racing team.”
The bank records contain details about transfers between Eagan Avenatti’s operating accounts and the IOLTA account, Frank’s legal team said in the documents.
“These transfers provide further evidence that EA is likely using the IOLTA account to unlawfully shield its money from a judgment levy by keeping the money in the IOLTA account until it needs the money to pay expenses or funnel it to an Avenatti entity,” Frank’s attorneys wrote.
After a bankruptcy court dismissed Eagan Avenatti’s case in March 2018, the firm transferred money from the IOLTA account to its operating account 73 times for a total of $1.5 million, Frank’s counsel claims.
“This is apparently how a firm with virtually no money in its operating accounts is able to fund hundreds of thousands of dollars in expenses each month,” the court document states. “And by keeping the money stashed away in the IOLTA account, rather than transferring it to EA, Avenatti is able to prevent [Frank’s firm] from levying on these amounts as a judgment creditor.”
Avenatti has not filed a response to this document.
In an email, Avenatti called Frank’s allegations “completely bogus and false.” He then accused Frank’s attorney, Eric George, of being “a big Republican backer” who “would love nothing more than to discredit me.”
George told The Daily Beast he’s a “California Republican” and has mostly donated to Democrats over the last 12 months. A review of campaign finances records shows George has donated to candidates from both parties.
“He’s beleaguered and these sorts of delusional responses now seem to be par for the course,” George said, when reached Sunday about Avenatti’s statement.
“Last time I checked, a person’s political affiliation is irrelevant to their liability for breaching contracts,” George added.
Eagan Avenatti is facing other legal woes.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Department evicted the firm from its ocean-view suite in Newport Beach last week. “There was no one at the premises when they did the eviction but still some office furniture,” said Mark Kompa, an attorney for the landlord, the Irvine Company. Court records show a judgment totaling $154,000 was entered against the firm for unpaid rent.
Avenatti denied Eagan Avenatti was evicted and said the firm was already moving out anyway. He then accused the Irvine Company’s chairman and owner of being a “lackey” of President Trump and the Republican Party and said the company “wants to make a spectacle out of this because I am a threat.” (The Daily Beast reached out to Kompa, as well as an Irvine Company spokesperson for comment and will update.)
On Oct. 22, the court held a non-jury trial in the eviction case but Eagan Avenatti’s representatives did not attend. Afterward, a superior court judge ruled in favor of the landlord.
Still, just before the firm’s scheduled Nov. 1 eviction, Avenatti’s current firm, Avenatti & Associates, filed papers to fight the ouster, claiming it had “an oral rental agreement with the landlord” to occupy the suite and storage spaces.
Avenatti signed the document on behalf of Avenatti & Associates under penalty of perjury, Kompa noted in one legal filing. Kompa added that the landlord’s leasing director said the company “has never entered into an oral rental agreement with any tenant.”
Kompa sent Eagan Avenatti a request for written discovery in early October, according to a brief Kompa filed in the eviction proceeding. In replies to Kompa’s questions, Avenatti’s old firm appears to have mimicked some of the language Avenatti used to deny requests for financial documents in his 2018 divorce proceeding.
When Kompa asked Eagan Avenatti to identify all other occupants of the suite, the firm replied that it objected “to the extent it seeks information or documents that are protected by the attorney-client privilege,” among other reasons. Those objections were signed by Avenatti himself on behalf of Eagan Avenatti, court papers allege.
Avenatti has told multiple news organizations, including The Daily Beast, that he no longer owns any stake in Eagan Avenatti. He declined, however, to name the firm’s new owner. Asked again on Sunday to name Eagan Avenatti’s new owner, Avenatti said via email, “Would like to disclose but can’t—confidential by agreement.”
Last summer, Avenatti told a bankruptcy judge that he owned 100 percent of Eagan Avenatti through his professional corporation, Avenatti & Associates. In July 2017, Avenatti testified at a meeting of creditors that his company owned 75 percent of Eagan Avenatti, according to court papers filed in Frank’s case.
Another of Avenatti’s former businesses, Global Baristas, owes hundreds of thousands to creditors and millions in unpaid state and federal taxes.
Global Baristas—the Washington-based company Avenatti created to purchase Tully’s, a struggling Seattle coffee chain—is facing an involuntary bankruptcy petition from a group of landlords and one former employee who say the company owes them more than $200,000.
One creditor is Beth Eno, a single mom who won a $120,585 default judgment after she claimed Global Baristas fired her for being pregnant. The company never responded to her lawsuit. “It’s ironic, isn’t it,” Eno told the Seattle Times in May. “He portrays himself as a defender of the disadvantaged when his company has taken full advantage of me.”
Back then, Eno’s former attorney, Drew Davis, said creditors like his client have tried to garnish Tully’s bank accounts but failed because Avenatti “just keeps changing bank accounts and hiding whatever funds Tully’s may have left.”
“It’s been next to impossible to find where he’s keeping the money,” Davis added.
Matthew Cunanan, the lawyer representing Eno in the involuntary bankruptcy petition, told the Seattle Times their legal strategy against Global Baristas isn’t typical.
“It is unusual, we don’t typically do this,” Cunanan said. “But when you have an experienced attorney that is seasoned and hiding money and refusing to pay out on legal obligations, judgments and contractual obligations, it’s a mechanism we use to hopefully ensure these payments actually take place and happen.”
Avenatti declined to comment on Global Baristas’ debts. “Who cares? Not my problem—I sold the company long ago,” he said.
Avenatti previously told The Daily Beast he sold the coffee company to a new ownership group, which he refused to identify, for more than $27 million. (The most recent corporation filing in Washington state lists Avenatti as the company’s manager.) He initially partnered with Grey’s Anatomy actor and fellow race-car driver Patrick Dempsey on the Tully’s venture, but Dempsey filed a lawsuit against Avenatti and exited the company.
In his 2013 complaint, Dempsey claimed Avenatti secretly secured a $2-million loan for the company’s daily operations without telling him, and had pledged their newly-acquired assets as collateral. The case was settled soon after, and Avenatti called the controversy was “much ado about nothing.”
Robert Sifuentez, a former Tully’s manager, said Avenatti “ghosted” the company as soon as Daniels’ battle with Trump entranced the country.
“That’s when he stopped returning phone calls and emails from our district manager,” said Sifuentez, who worked for the chain for almost nine years. “That’s when mass confusion started because no one could get a hold of the guy.”
Avenatti appeared to be the company’s sole decision-maker, Sifuentez said. As Avenatti’s and Daniels’ profile rose, Tully’s stopped paying bills and stores began to close. “It was also confusing because at that point, Avenatti was claiming that he had nothing to do with Tully’s and had sold it a long time ago,” Sifuentez added, referring to a Washington Post profile from March. “All of us at Tully’s were saying, ‘What? We just got emails from you a couple of weeks ago.’”
“Timing is everything. I exited at the right time. Basically, they’re just another client now,” Avenatti told the Post of Global Baristas.
Sifuentez said he was fired shortly after speaking to the Seattle Times, despite remaining anonymous in his comments about Tully’s woes. He also claimed that, after he later spoke to the Times on the record, Avenatti called him repeatedly, though he declined to answer. He’s watched with dread as Avenatti has skyrocketed to fame and assumed the role of liberal hero and relentless Trump antagonist.
In response to this account, Avenatti called Sifuentez “a dishonest thief” and claimed he was fired after stealing money and giving confidential documents to the press. “There is currently a criminal investigation into his conduct and I expect him to be charged. He is a dishonest criminal and a fraud. He will also face significant civil liability. I am very surprised that you have no [sic] asked him whether he was fired and for what reason,” Avenatti said via email.
Sifuentez denied this and called Avenatti’s statement “real fucking bananas.”
“The only person who ever contacted me was from the Washington State Department of Revenue, who was investigating Avenatti and Global Baristas,” Sifuentez said. “It’s been nine months since the stores closed, so I would imagine if this criminal investigation was a thing, that probably would have happened by now.”
Sifuentez said he has no incentive to lie about anything related to Avenatti or Tully’s; he claimed he’s simply providing one of many accounts of “Avenatti ducking responsibility.”
“Thankfully now the kind of person he actually is, is becoming more and more clear,” Sifuentez said in an interview. “He cost me and our friends and hundreds of people our jobs.”
“He still hasn’t gracefully exited the spotlight. If anything, he’s trying harder now.”
— with additional reporting by Hugo Daniel.