On Monday, the California State Bar publicly issued a consumer alert regarding Michael Avenatti. The organization said it will suspend him from practicing law because he “poses a substantial threat of harm to clients or the public.”
The State Bar’s website states:
“The State Bar of California has filed a petition to enroll this licensee on interim inactive status, alleging that the licensee’s conduct poses a substantial threat of harm to clients or the public. The petition involves a charge that the licensee engaged in a major misappropriation of client funds.”
Fox News called the California State Bar a “pile-on.”
“The action by the California State Bar is nothing more than a ‘pile-on’ and was entirely expected in light of the pending charges. I offered to cooperate with the Bar and instead they decided to issue a press release as a stunt. I look forward to being fully exonerated by the facts.”
The State Bar is focusing its efforts on Avenatti’s former client, Gregory Barela. Barela said Avenatti illegally withheld settlement funds and then lied about it. Text messages and financial documents from Barela showed that Avenatti dodged questions about the money, and had been wired to an account opened by Avenatti.
The California State Bar maintains that the evidence against Avenatti is “clear and convincing” and the celebrity lawyer had not provided any defense. The bar also noted he owes Barela more than $700,000.
HOW THE MEDIA GOT IT WRONG
Barela’s lawyer Steven Bledsoe said, “Mr. Avenatti has stolen money from multiple clients, violated their trust, and should never be allowed to practice law again.”
On separate charges Avenatti has been arraigned on stealing $300,000 from Stormy Daniels. He was charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.
In addition, shoe giant Nike said he tried to extort $25 million by “threatening to expose claims that the shoemaker paid off high school basketball players to steer them to Nike-sponsored colleges.”
In this case, he was charged with the following: one count of extortion, one count of interstate communications and two counts conspiracy.
Marissa Martinez is a political contributor for Accuracy in Media. She is the former political director to Massachusetts Governor’s re-election campaign, alumna of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and political consultant to PACs. Follow her stories, @MarissaAlisa.