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Michael Avenatti gets mistrial in California embezzlement case

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By Jan Wolfe and Jonathan Stempel WASHINGTON, Aug 24 (Reuters) – A federal judge on Tuesday declared a mistrial in the government’s embezzlement case against Michael Avenatti, giving the already convicted celebrity lawyer a temporary reprieve as he defends against a slew of criminal charges. U.S.
District Judge James Selna in Santa Ana, California, said Avenatti was entitled to a new trial because prosecutors had failed to turn over relevant billing-related evidence. Avenatti, 50, who is representing himself, had argued that the evidence might be exculpatory, and that the failure to turn it over undermined his ability to mount a defense. The mistrial was confirmed in an email from the office of Acting U.S.

Attorney Tracy Wilkison in Los Angeles. Selna found no evidence – of intentional misconduct by prosecutors, according to The Recorder and Law360. He set a tentative Oct. 12 date for another trial, but Avenatti may argue he cannot be retried because of double jeopardy.

The trial had lasted one month. “Today is a good day for every person who believes that the Constitution means something,” Avenatti said in a statement provided by his standby lawyer Dean Steward. “Laws and rules matter.” Avenatti was being tried on 10 wire fraud charges for allegedly embezzling nearly $10 million of settlement proceeds from five clients. He faces 26 additional charges in California, including bankruptcy, bank and tax fraud. Avenatti shot from obscurity to fame in 2018 representing porn – actress Stormy Daniels in lawsuits against then-U.S.

President Donald Trump, becoming a cable news fixture and flirting with his own White House run. His legal career ground to a halt in March 2019 when federal prosecutors – in Manhattan charged him with trying to extort up to $25 million from Nike Inc, and California prosecutors announced their criminal case. Avenatti is appealing his conviction and 2-1/2-year prison sentence in the Nike case.
He also faces a trial next year in Manhattan for allegedly cheating Daniels out of proceeds from a book contract. Avenatti has pleaded not guilty. (Reporting by Jan Wolfe and Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Jonathan Oatis)


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