Avenatti Accused of Violating Covid Release by Computer Use
(Bloomberg) -- Celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti violated the terms of his temporary release from jail during the pandemic by using a computer to write his own court filings, according to federal prosecutors.
Avenatti, who gained a national profile while representing the adult-film actress Stormy Daniels in a lawsuit against President Donald Trump, personally drafted his last five court filings in the case against him even though he’s barred from using a computer, U.S. Attorney Nicola Hanna for Los Angeles said Sunday in a request for a probe into the matter. Avenatti was charged last year with defrauding clients and submitting false tax returns.
The U.S. said Avenatti may have also misled the court about his ability to access pretrial information sharing, known as discovery.
Avenatti, 49, was released in April to home confinement at a third party’s residence in Venice, California, as part of a nationwide effort to reduce prison populations during the public health crisis. The lawyer, who was convicted of trying to extort millions of dollars from Nike Inc. in a separate case in New York, has denied the charges.
H. Dean Steward, his lawyer, wrote in response to the government’s filing that Avenatti has fully complied with his bail conditions and hasn’t accessed the internet since his release. Steward said in the filing that he doesn’t dispute Avenatti has been helping defend himself, which would be expected because he’s a lawyer.
Steward also denied misleading the court, saying Avenatti didn’t have the ability to review discovery via computer until Friday, and “spent a good part of the weekend” reviewing.
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