The California State Bar, which oversees discipline for all California-licensed attorneys, issued a “consumer alert” Monday evening concerning Michael Avenatti, saying it was moving to suspend him from the practice of law because his alleged conduct “poses a substantial threat of harm to clients or the public.”
The sudden development further accentuated Avenatti’s dramatic public fall from grace — he was once celebrated in liberal media circles as a potential challenger to President Trump — as he faces numerous federal criminal charges in both California and New York courts for allegedly trying to blackmail the clothing giant Nike, impersonating a client, misappropriating client funds for personal purchases, and related matters.
“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 State Bar said on its website, noting Avenatti is presumed innocent but that it expects to ultimately disbar him entirely from the practice of law. “The petition involves a charge that the licensee engaged in a major misappropriation of client funds.”
Reached by Fox News late Monday, Avenatti responded, “The action by the CA 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.”
“Mr. Avenatti is the Bernie Madoff of attorneys. He belongs disbarred and behind bars.”
Avenatti Accused of Hiding $4M Settlement from ‘Mentally Ill Paraplegic’ Client, Faces Up to 335 Years in Prison
Embattled California attorney Michael Avenatti will be named in an indictment at noon EST on Thursday. At that time, the U.S. Department of Justice and the IRS will reportedly plan to announce the “filing of a 36-count indictment.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, a grand jury indicted Avenatti on “36 counts of fraud, perjury, failure to pay taxes, embezzlement and other financial crimes.” The attorney is accused of stealing “millions of dollars from five clients and used a tangled web of shell companies and bank accounts to cover up the theft.”