Twice-convicted attorney Michael Avenatti offers guilty plea to California charges

Michael Avenatti arrives to Federal court in Manhattan, Monday, Jan. 24, 2022, in New York.
(John Minchillo / Associated Press)

Disgraced lawyer Michael Avenatti, who rose to national prominence representing porn actress Stormy Daniels in her legal battles against former President Trump, has offered to plead guilty to multiple criminal charges against him in California.

It’s unclear whether prosecutors, and ultimately a judge, will accept his offered plea.

Avenatti faces 36 criminal charges in California alleging that he stole millions of dollars from clients, cheated on his taxes and then lied to investigators. In a notice filed Sunday in U.S. Central District Court, he said he has tried for the last year to work out a plea agreement with prosecutors, to no avail.


The 51-year-old was supposed to go to trial on some of the counts in July.

Michael Avenatti is sentenced for cheating adult film actor Stormy Daniels out of book proceeds. He also represented her in battles with Donald Trump.

Pleading guilty to some of the charges against him showed his willingness to take accountability for his actions, he argued.

“Mr. Avenatti wishes to plead in order to be accountable; accept responsibility; avoid his former clients being further burdened; save the Court and the government significant resources; and save his family further embarrassment,” the filing read. It doesn’t say to which of the counts he wants to plead guilty.

In a follow-up filing, prosecutors requested that the incarcerated Avenatti be transported to a change-of-plea hearing set for Thursday before U.S. District Judge James Selna at the federal courthouse in Santa Ana. Avenatti planned to represent himself in the trial, which followed a mistrial in Orange County in August.

Mistrial declared in Michael Avenatti embezzlement case, but he still faces 30 months in prison for attempted extortion and other criminal charges.

Dean Steward, a Newport Beach-based lawyer who is advising Avenatti, did not respond to a request for comment Monday morning, and a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in the Central District of California declined comment.

Avenatti is at the federal prison on Terminal Island in San Pedro serving sentences for two prior convictions. This month, a New York judge sentenced Avenatti to four years in prison after he was convicted of fraud and identity theft for cheating Daniels out of nearly $300,000 in book proceeds.

He had previously been convicted in New York of trying to extort up to $25 million from Nike to stay quiet about claims that the athletic apparel giant paid high school athletes. He was sentenced to 2½ years in prison in that case.