Michael Avenatti Secures Private Counsel After Asking for Public Defender for Fraud and Embezzlement Case

Michael Avenatti says he has secured private counsel to represent him in his California criminal case in which he’s accused of committing fraud and stealing millions of dollars from clients. Avenatti previously sought to have a public defender represent him in the case. “I have retained Dean Steward as my private defense counsel to represent me in California,” Avenatti wrote on Twitter Wednesday. “And I have agreed to compensate the Federal Public Defenders’ office (which is phenomenal btw) 100% for any time they have spent to date. We are preparing for trial.” A federal judge rejected Avenatti’s request for a public defender on Tuesday without providing a reason. Public defenders are usually appointed for defendants who cannot afford a lawyer, but can also be appointed for defendants who prove the cost of defending the case exceeds their living expenses. Avenatti argued “that he falls into the latter category of eligibility and requests an opportunity to contribute to his representation,” according to court filings.

Prosecutors wanted Avenatti to fill out financial forms to show he can’t afford an attorney. The Public Defender asked that Avenatti not be required to disclose his finances as it “would be a demanding and time-intensive effort,” the motion reads. Avenatti allegedly stole millions from clients, didn’t pay his taxes for his coffee business, and committed bank fraud to cover up the crimes. He has pleaded not guilty to all 36-counts against him.