Stormy Daniels took the stand as a witness on January 27, 2022 in the trial of Michael Avenatti. Avenatti is accused of stealing almost $300,000 from his former client.
Avenatti and Daniels made headlines in 2018 when they filed a lawsuit alleging that Daniels had had a sexual relationship with former President Donald Trump and was paid $130,000 to keep that relationship secret shortly before the 2016 election.
However, the relationship between Avenatti and Daniels took a turn sometime after 2018. According to prosecutors, Daniels signed a book contract with a publisher that spring that included an $800,000 advance. Just a few months later, Avenatti allegedly impersonated Daniels in a letter to the publisher, asking them to send future payments to a new bank account that Daniels was unaware of and Avenatti controlled. According to the indictment, Avenatti used this money to pay his firm’s employees and cover personal expenses, including payments on a Ferrari.
Daniels learned of the alleged fraud when she acquired a copy of the fake letter from her publisher in 2019. Avenatti was then indicted on charges of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.
“He stole from me and lied to me,” Daniels testified on Thursday. Avenatti, who is representing himself, is expected to personally cross-examine Daniels.
During opening statements, Avenatti’s defense lawyer described Daniels as a “disgruntled former client” who had been lent hundreds of thousands of dollars from Avenatti.
Avenatti was convicted of attempting to extort millions of dollars from Nike two years ago and has previously been accused of stealing millions from five other clients, although he was granted a mistrial in that case.
‘He Stole From Me’: Stormy Daniels Testifies at Avenatti Trial, The New York Times (January 27, 2022)
Michael Avenatti Trial Begins, Unearthing Artifacts of the Trump Era, The New York Times (January 24, 2022)
Stormy Daniels set to testify against former lawyer Avenatti in fraud trial, The Hill (January 23, 2022)
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