During her trial testimony Thursday, January 27, 2022, in Michael Avenatti’s fraud trial, adult film star Stormy Daniels accused her former lawyer of stealing from her and lying to her.
Avenatti is on trial in Manhattan on charges of federal wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.
“I hired another attorney because he stole from me and lied to me,” Daniels said on the stand.
Avenatti allegedly stole nearly $300,000 from an $800,000 advance Daniels was supposed to earn from her 2018 book “Full Disclosure.” He also is accused of sending a letter posing as Daniels to her publisher to have money intended for her sent to him.
The book detailed an affair Daniels said she had with former President Donald Trump.
Under questioning from the prosecutor, Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, said she paid Avenatti $100 to represent her and he was to set up a crowdfunded defense fund. She testified that fundraised $650,000 and it was controlled by Avenatti.
Daniels testified that she met Avenatti at the Waldorf-Astoria in Beverly Hills in February 2018. She wanted to speak with him about breaking a non-disclosure agreement with Trump.
She said she signed an attorney-client agreement with him the next day.
Daniels said during her testimony that Avenatti never mentioned to her that he would take some of the advance money for himself.
Avenatti is representing himself in the trial. He is expected to cross-examine Daniels Thursday afternoon.
In 2018, Avenatti represented Daniels over accusations that she at one time had a sexual relationship with Trump — and had received a $130,000 “hush money” payment from one of Trump’s attorneys to keep the relationship private.
Daniels, 42, claims that Avenatti stole her identity and sent a phony letter to persuade her literary agent to send him nearly $300,000 she was supposed to receive as part of a book deal — which produced her autobiography Full Disclosure in 2018.
Earlier this week, a judge ruled that Avenatti can represent himself in the trial after Avenatti said there’d been a “breakdown” with his former lawyers. That means he will cross-examine Daniels himself when she testifies.
Avenatti, 50, said in court on Tuesday that representing himself gives him the best chance of winning the case.
Last year, Avenatti was convicted in a separate case and sentenced to more than 2 years in prison for attempting to extort more than $20 million from sportswear giant Nike. At his sentencing, Avenatti acknowledged that he’d betrayed his own values and destroyed his career and his life.