Disgraced, incarcerated lawyer Michael Avenatti pleaded guilty Thursday to four counts of wire fraud and a tax-related charge in a federal court case in Southern California accusing him of stealing millions of dollars from his clients, according to Breitbart News.
“I misappropriated and misused certain of their settlement funds,” Avenatti told the court, but added he believes the amount owed in restitution is “drastically less” than the $9 million stated by the government.
Prosecutors said the plea — which the the 51-year-old lawyer offered without a deal — subjects Avenatti to as many as 83 years in prison. They said they will decide by Monday whether to try him on the remaining charges in a 36-count indictment accusing him of swindling clients by negotiating and collecting settlement payments on their behalf and funneling the money to accounts he controlled in addition to bank and bankruptcy fraud.
“Michael Avenatti finally admitted what the IRS criminal investigation and the U.S. attorney’s office has been saying for several years now: that he committed audacious acts to steal money from his clients to line his own pockets,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Brett Sagel told reporters.