Stormy Daniels, the porn star who catapulted herself and Michael Avenatti to fame with lawsuits against former President Donald Trump, will have a starring role in court beginning Monday when prosecutors try to prove that the California lawyer cheated her of $300,000 in book proceeds.
Her testimony in Manhattan federal court will be pivotal for prosecutors trying to prove Avenatti engaged in wire fraud and aggravated identity theft to keep from giving his client money he had received from her publisher. Opening statements are set for Monday. Daniels is not expected to testify until Tuesday, at the earliest.
Avenatti, 50, has pleaded not guilty to the charges in what will be his third criminal trial in two years.
“I am completely innocent of these charges,” Avenatti said in a weekend statement issued through a publicist. “The government is spending millions of dollars to prosecute me for a case that should have never been filed. Meanwhile, they continue to allow Trump and his co-conspirators to walk free and suffer no consequences for their criminal conduct. That is not justice.”
In early 2020, he was convicted of trying to extort up to $25 million from Nike by threatening to tarnish the sportswear giant’s reputation unless it met his demands. He has not yet begun serving a 2 1/2-year prison sentence. Last year, a mistrial resulted in California on charges that he cheated clients there. He awaits retrial.