Michael Avenatti Indicted On 36 Counts By Grand Jury

Update: Never one to let grand jury indictments, getting fired by Stormy Daniels, an ongoing bankruptcy battle, #MeToo claims that he beat his girlfriend, and getting caught allegedly trying to bilk Nike for $25 million, Avenatti tweeted on Thursday that he will plead "NOT GUILTY" - describing the whole thing as a "one-sided version meant to sideline me." 

One day after it was reported that Michael Avenatti was the subject of a federal warrant that resulted in the seizure of his $4.5 million private jet, CNN's favorite guest was indicted by a federal grand jury in California on 36 counts

US Attorney Nick Hanna and the IRS are holding a press conference at 9am PST to discuss the charges. 

In March, Avenatti was arrested in Manhattan for allegedly scheming to extort $25 million from sportswear giant Nike. More notable, was that federal fraud charges simultaneously unsealed revealed in a nearly 200-page complaint with allegations of bank fraud. He reportedly embezzled a client's debts and lied to a bank with faked tax returns. 

But as startling as the Nike allegations may be — attempting to strong-arm one of the most recognizable companies on the planet — the federal fraud charges simultaneously unsealed in California may be more revealing and could pose greater jeopardy to Avenatti and his freedom.

They exposed nearly a decade of alleged financial misdeeds on a vast scale, many of which have sporadically surfaced in courtrooms up and down the West Coast. -LA Times

The 48-year-old attorney has been accused by the IRS with failure to pay taxes on millions of dollars between his personal income and his firm - while living an opulent lifestyle. 

As with the Los Angeles case, Avenatti is expected to be indicted by a grand jury in the New York case. Unless defendants in federal criminal cases agree to plead guilty, prosecutors have to obtain a grand jury indictment to push a case toward trial after filing a complaint.

Avenatti told CNBC’s “Closing Bell ” on Monday that Nike “pulled a stunt” by having him arrested in New York before he could go public with his claims that the company was bribing high school hoop players to coax them into attending Nike-sponsored colleges.

Avenatt in that interview claimed that Nike “has been covering up this scandal for over five years.”

“They knew they could not control me ... They effectively had to shoot the messenger.” -CNBC

On Wednesday, US Attorney's Office spokesman Thom Mrozek told Fox News that federal agents had seized Avenatti's HA-420 twin-engine jet from Santa Barbara airport at approximately 10am following the issuance of the warrant. 

According to the New York Post, the plane had been originally scheduled to be fly to Orange County for Avenatti - however pilots filed a new flight path to San Bernardino County. 

"Federal authorities have seized a jet co-owned by Mr. Avenatti pursuant to a seizure warrant issued by a federal judge. This seizure is related to the pending criminal case in Los Angeles," an official told Fox News

Avenatti told Fox: "I haven’t used the plane in almost a year and I gave up my interest last year. I have no interest in the plane and could care less." 

Avenatti was recently in the news when Seagrams heiress Clare Bronfman fainted after being asked during her NVXIM sex cult trial if Avenatti was secretly representing her. Of note, Bronfman is being represented by Mark Geragos - identified by the Wall Street Journal this week as a co-conspirator Avenatti's Nike extortion scheme.

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