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Michael Avenatti Faces Up to 107 Years in Prison Over Charges in New York and California


Stormy Daniels‘ former attorney Michael Avenatti was indicted in the Southern District of New York (SDNY) and the Central District of California over the weekend on a litany of felony charges.

In the SDNY, Avenatti is essentially accused of attempting to extort athletics wear giant Nike to the tune of some $20 million. Specifically, he was charged with: (1) Conspiracy to Transmit Interstate Communications With Intent to Extort; (2) Conspiracy to Commit Extortion; (3) Transmission of Interstate Communications With Intent to Extort; and (4) Extortion.

Codified at 18 U.S.C. §371, the first allegation carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.  18 U.S.C. §1951, the second allegation carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Codified at 18 U.S.C. 875(d) and 18 U.S.C. 2, the third allegation is actually asserting that Avenatti aided and abetted a scheme to issue extortion threats through across state lines. As the U.S. Department of Justice has explained, however, aiding and abetting is not a separate crime but is simply parceled out separately in federal law to abolish former common law notions of a “principal” and an “accessory” to a crime. Here, Avenatti faces up to two years in prison.

The fourth count, codified once more at 18 U.S.C. §1951 and §2, claims Avenatti aided and abetted a scheme to extort Nike. And, as noted, the use of the “aid and abet” language has no impact on the potential sentence here. The maximum sentence is, again, 20 years in prison.

All together, the celebrity lawyer faces up to 47 years in prison over the allegations made by Empire State authorities alone.

But that’s not all.

Avenatti was also indicted on two additional charges in California. Essentially, authorities claim he embezzled a client’s money to pay off his own debts and that he used fraudulent tax returns to secure a bank loan. Those charges are: (1) a federal charge of bank fraud; and (2) a federal charge of wire fraud.

Codified at 18 U.S.C. §1344(1) and §1343, respectively, Avenatti faces a maximum of 60 years in prison on the charges brought against him this weekend in the Golden State. This large potential sentence is due to the nature of the allegations; Avenatti is alleged to have used two banks to conduct the alleged wire fraud scheme–which increases potential wire fraud penalties by up to an additional 10 years.

All told, Avenatti faces a combined 107 years in prison.

[image via Spencer Platt/Getty Images]

Editor’s note: this story was amended post-publication to amend a typo and for clarity.

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