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Michael Avenatti will not face felony charges in domestic violence probe

Michael Avenatti will not face felony charges in domestic violence probe
Michael Avenatti speaks to reporters outside the Los Angeles Police Department's Pacific Division after his arrest last week on suspicion of domestic violence. (Associated Press)

Attorney Michael Avenatti will not face felony charges based on allegations of domestic violence lodged against him by a 24-year-old actress.

Los Angeles County prosecutors announced Wednesday they sent the case to the L.A. city attorney for possible misdemeanor charges. County prosecutors and a city attorney’s office spokesman declined to comment further.

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Avenatti, who gained fame as the attorney representing porn actress Stormy Daniels in a lawsuit against President Trump, was arrested Nov. 14 on suspicion of domestic violence, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. He was released on $50,000 bail.

Avenatti has repeatedly denied wrongdoing, lashed out at media outlets and insinuated in a series of tweets that his arrest was a setup by a conservative activist.

“I am thankful that the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office has rejected filing any charges against me after a fair, careful and thorough investigation,” Avenatti wrote in a statement posted on Twitter. “I have maintained my innocence since the moment of my arrest. I wish to thank my supporters, friends, family, attorneys, and clients for the outpouring of support they provided. This Thanksgiving, I am especially grateful for justice.”

Mareli Miniutti claimed Avenatti had “a history of being verbally abusive and financially controlling” during their yearlong relationship, according to a declaration made as part of a request for a restraining order against Avenatti filed in Santa Monica this week.

In the 38-page filing, Miniutti said a fight about money led Avenatti to shove her, twist her arm and drag her out of their luxury West Los Angeles apartment last week.

Miniutti and Avenatti began dating in October 2017, and she said she had lived with Avenatti since the beginning of the year, according to the document.

During the argument last week, Avenatti allegedly cursed at Miniutti, calling her “ungrateful” before hitting her in the face with pillows.

“Do not disrespect me. You don’t get to sleep in my house tonight,” he said, according to the filing.

Miniutti said she suffered scratches to her side and leg, as she was partially undressed when the incident took place, according to the filing. Pictures attached to the filing showed a deep red bruise on a part of Miniutti’s body.

She also said Avenatti had been violent toward her at least once before, in February, according to the filing. Miniutti said the lawyer had been drinking and grew angry when he pushed her into a hallway, causing Miniutti to bang her head against a door.

Avenatti also threw shoes at her during the February incident, according to the filing.

Miniutti has appeared in at least eight films, including an uncredited role in “Ocean’s Eight,” according to IMDB.

Attempts to contact Miniutti were unsuccessful. A spokeswoman for the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, which is representing her, declined to comment this week.

Avenatti, a possible 2020 presidential candidate who has made a habit of verbally sparring with and insulting Trump on Twitter, has repeatedly denied the accusations in a series of statements and tweets since last week.

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He has indicated that his arrest was somehow orchestrated by Jacob Wohl, a 20-year-old Trump booster and conspiracy theorist from Orange County who gained recognition this month when he was linked to uncorroborated sexual assault allegations against special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who is investigating possible collusion between Trump and the Russian government to influence the 2016 election.

Surefire Intelligence, a D.C.-based investigation firm linked to Wohl, tweeted that the firm had struck “again” shortly after Avenatti’s arrest. In an email to The Times last week, Wohl denied any involvement in Avenatti’s arrest and said the tweet from the Surefire account was a joke.

Avenatti has not commented on why he thinks Wohl was behind his arrest, and he has not said whether he was basing his claim solely on the tweet. Last week, Avenatti tweeted that he was “coming for you Jacob Wohl aka Surefire,” and suggested that he, like Mueller, had been falsely accused.

Wohl filed a report with the Irvine Police Department claiming Avenatti had threatened him, a city spokeswoman said.

Times staff writers Richard Winton and Michael Finnegan contributed to this report.

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