Michael Avenatti, the attorney who became known as the lawyer for Stormy Daniels, is facing charges in California and in New York. In California, his charges include embezzling money from a client's settlement and filing false tax returns to gain approval for a $4 million loan from a bank in Mississippi. In New York, he is facing charges for extortion for allegedly trying to extort $25 million from Nike.

Avenatti, who denied the charges, stated that he is worried about them. In the California case involving the former client, Avenatti is accused of receiving a settlement of $1.6 million for the client; instead of turning over the man's money, the lawyer allegedly deposited it into a personal account and used it to pay for a luxury apartment and payments on a Ferrari.

A man who previously worked for Avenatti's law firm also claims that he was not paid for the work that he did in 2016. He is trying to collect $10 million he was awarded in a judgment. His lawyers claim that when Avenatti's firm went through bankruptcy proceedings, Avenatti deposited millions of dollars from clients in accounts that were hidden from the bankruptcy court.

Being accused of white-collar crimes can be serious. People who are convicted of white-collar crimes may face substantial penalties, including restitution and long sentences of incarceration. People might benefit from retaining white-collar criminal defense lawyers as early in the process as possible. Attorneys may be able to negotiate agreements to avoid criminal charges in exchange for paying restitution in some cases. In other cases, attorneys might work to secure favorable pleas to lesser charges or to sentences that avoid incarceration.

Source: Associated Press, "Fraud charges followed Avenatti's public financial feuds," Brian Melley and Amy Taxin, March 27, 2019.

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