An Orange County judge declared a mistrial Tuesday in the embezzlement trial of attorney Michael Avenatti, Your Content has learned.
Avenatti stands accused of stealing settlement money from several clients to help bail out his law firm from bankruptcy, stave off creditors and to spend on himself.
The mistrial was granted on technical grounds, with U.S. District Judge James V. Selna ruling that federal prosecutors failed to turn over relevant financial evidence to Avenatti. Selna said he did not find any evidence of intentional misconduct on the part of prosecutors, essentially determining the failure to disclose the data was tantamount to an oversight.
Your Content readers were among the first to learn that Avenatti was released from New York Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) at 11 a.m. on Apr. 24, 2020, after a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
The lawless lawyer’s short stint at freedom ended on Sept. 4, 2020, when Avenatti violated terms of his bail and returned to prison.
Avenatti has been facing criminal investigations in New York and California on a variety of issues, including alleged extortion of Nike in New York, wire fraud of a client and tax fraud in California.
Avenatti, who sprinted to fame during a dispute with Donald Trump over a nondisclosure agreement between the former president and adult film actress Stormy Daniels, has consistently maintained that the government failed in its accounting of his expenses and that he did nothing wrong.
He won the right on the eve of trial to represent himself in the case. Attorney Dean Steward assisted him as a co-counsel on the case, Press Enterprise reported.
Avenatti is charged with ripping off at least five clients of nearly $10 million in settlement funds between January 2015 and March 2019. Earlier this month, Avenatti was sentenced to 30 months in prison for attempting to extort about $25 million from Nike, in a case that was tried in New York.