When Michael Avenatti was first indicted for various financial crimes he was very assertive about his own innocence. Of course, like all defendants, he was presumed innocent, but Avenatti was eager to suggest that in his case people who believed in his innocence would be proven right once all the facts came out:
No matter what happened, Avenatti always maintained he was about to be “exonerated by the facts.”
The Nike case was more of the same.
And as we all now know, Avenatti was not fully cleared. Just over a month later he was convicted on all counts by a jury. When he was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison earlier this month, Avenatti seemed to finally admit he was not innocent. “I lost my way. I betrayed my own values, my friends, my family and myself. I betrayed my profession. I became driven by the things that don’t matter in life,” he said. The judge cited his show of remorse as a reason for giving him a relatively light sentence.
Now jump forward two weeks and Avenatti is once again in court, this time in California where he is representing himself on charges that he stole money from a series of clients. The Daily Beast reports that the old Avenatti is back and he’s still innocent as a dove.
In his opening statement on Wednesday, Avenatti was adamant that he went above and beyond for the handful of clients who will soon testify against him in Santa Ana.
“A few days ago, Mr. Sagel and Mr. [Alexander] Wyman introduced themselves to you, and they told you that they represented the United States of America,” Avenatti began. “Ladies and gentlemen, for over 20 years, I, too, have represented the United States of America, and I have done it one citizen at a time.
“No crime was committed by me, and I never intended to steal or defraud any client of any money at all. Not last week. Not last month. Not last year. Never. I have pled not guilty for one reason: because I am not guilty.” Avenatti thundered…
The lawyer then accused the federal prosecutors of fuzzy math when it came to the charges that he siphoned clients’ funds: “The evidence will show that despite working on this case for well over two years, despite all the resources and the agents of the federal government, they still don’t have the numbers right. It doesn’t add up.”
“We will show that it is smoke and mirrors,” Avenatti said.
It’s clearly not smoke and mirrors. The prosecutors has text messages where Avenatti tells his clients that the settlement money hasn’t come in even though it has. They have bank records showing him transferring settlement money from into his own accounts. After losing in the Nike trial, does he really think he’s going to win a case where one of his victims is a paraplegic man?
Maybe if he’s convicted on all counts in this trial he’ll once again burst into tears during sentencing. And then he can rinse and repeat the entire thing two more times, once for the second half of this trial later this year and once more in the Stormy Daniels trial next year. At some point maybe Avenatti will finally admit he was never innocent of any of it, but that day hasn’t come yet.