Avenatti Found Guilty In New York Fraud Trial

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Michael Avenatti was convicted this afternoon by a jury of all three charges in the extortion trial related to demands for up to $25 million from Nike. I post this news with a great sense of personal sadness. Michael was one of my students and research assistants. He was an outstanding student and one of the most talented trial attorneys in the country. He now faces two other federal trials and significant jail time.

I felt that this first trial held the best chance for Avenatti in seeking an acquittal or hung jury. While the tax and contract claims tend to be more cut and dry, this case turned on how to interpret demands as either zealous advocacy or extortion. The most damaging element was Avenatti’s demand for a lucrative contract for himself for an internal investigation. He was representing Gary Franklin, the coach of youth basketball team California Supreme. Franklin claimed that Nike forced him to make illicit payments to top high school basketball players and their families and later ended its sponsorship of the team.

The prosecutors showed that Avenatti had assumed a towering level of debt and argued that he used the case for self-dealing in an effort to get a windfall from Nike. He demanded $1.5 million for Franklin as well as a payment to Avenatti and another attorney of $12 million. He also asked for a guarantee of $15 to $25 million in payments for the internal investigation.

There is a tragic quality to all of this as a modern Icarus who flew too close to the sun. Michael became wildly successful as an attorney but also wildly spent what he earned from major victories in court. This included private jets, expensive condos, and an indulgent lifestyle. His life was truly a rags to riches story of a kid who worked his way through school and then rocketed to the top of elite lawyers. That story became a tragedy when his rapid climb was followed by an equally rapid plunge from a great height.

I am terribly saddened as I think of that young, ambitious lawyer who sat in my office asking to become a research assistant. That is still the Michael that I remember: highly intelligent, highly motivated. It is hard not to feel a sense of paternalism over our students as we watch them progress in law school and in their professions. Indeed, the greatest joy in teaching is to watch the optimism and excitement of your students as they set out on their careers. We see them when there is nothing but a horizon before them and limitless possibilities. As shocked as I was by these charges, I still cling to the memory of that young law student breaming with talent and drive. He was ultimately undone not by this aptitude but his appetite. That is the true tragedy.

81 thoughts on “Avenatti Found Guilty In New York Fraud Trial”

  1. Obviously I know nothing personally of Mr. Avenatti so what I write about him is purely speculative as to its applicability to his station, but what has happened shows a common pitfall for some in his position.

    There is a great personal paradox in having achieved something absolutely dear and then face its loss, which often makes one wonder if it was better never to have experienced it and remained content with the ordinary, or to instead delighted in an unimaginable joy and suffered its permanent loss. What puts many who cannot arrive at deciding the better over the fence is that the joy is limited and the loss haunts you for decades or more.

    Because of this, the situation gets into a feedback loop. There is always the endless pursuit of acquiring more and more joy (in Mr. Avenatti’s case money and wealth) knowing that there is the possibility of an eventual crash or the illusion of a crash, and increasing steps to preserve the status quo become often more vile the greater the threat to the joy.

    The rise to the top is often motivated by the same ambition as the desperation that fuels the descent. That is often why it is of a slope of the same amplitude on the up and the down.

    Perhaps a more reasonable approach could be at least in the case of money might be to cement in one’s thinking a reasonably achievable goal, then work reasonably hard to achieve it. Once there, what you do is to maintain the financial stability to remain at that goal until it is absolutely bulletproof–invest wisely, be frugal. Then once you have 150% of what you need to live the remainder of your life expectancy at such a level or a little more, retire then and there!

    I never could understand why people are compelled to work until they are 75 years old in a job they really no longer enjoy just so they can maintain their collection of “things” and keeping up with the Jones’. When I see individuals who come in to a few million and go right out and buy a McMansion, $200k cars, and other bs like that I just shake my head in dismay. They should just calm down, live in an ordinary lifestyle, and never work a day again in their life. Being able to have the means to never have a jackass for a boss, deal with vendors who fail to perform, employee drama, bitchy customers, and stupid regulations should be one of life’s greatest liberations. Why miss that opportunity in the pursuit of fanciful baubles.

  2. It’s really easy to get wrapped up in the LA life-style. You have to have a thick skull and a strong spine to keep your head on right in this town.

    I’ve been to events at 25 million dollar mansions, on a few instances (can’t say a bunch), and I can tell you, it is not all that it is cracked up to be….and then you realize the house is 25 million, and you’re like, “That’s it….you could have had so much more land with that same amount of money, or done so much more with that amount of money.” But in real estate, they say “Location, Location, Location.” Besides, most of these types have multiple houses, not just one….they fly into LA for a little bit of time, and then fly out….onto another house.

    If you get wrapped up into the rat race hustle of Los Angeles, and just want more, more, more, and will do whatever necessary to get it, I can assure you, it will catch up to you.

    1. And I am also very saddened to see this happen to him, as well as to anyone else, who gets in over their head.

      And I can assure you from the time he was a student at GW Law, to the all his time spent as an attorney in Los Angeles, his life changed drastically…

      And I am sure, just by osmosis, he interacted with extravagant types, LA is full of them…..and some of them are nothing but empty shells, or empty shells stuffed with cash. A lot of foreigners, and lot of trust fund types….it’s a strange town, but the weather is good, pollution is not, beach is nice, I rec visiting only….

      1. And I am not saying, he didn’t make his own choice, he did…he made his own choices….

        …..and I am not blaming others, all I am saying is this “town” collectively, has its good and its bad….and he probably did get into a certain mentality, lifestyle aspirations…..

        ….I say if you’re middle class, and you have no debt, some savings in the bank, and good health, and some peace of mind, your blessed.

      2. WW33:
        “And I can assure you from the time he was a student at GW Law, to the all his time spent as an attorney in Los Angeles, his life changed drastically…”
        But not in ways he didn’t want. Lives change, hearts don’t. You don’t screw over your law partners, wives, girlfriends and clients because you’re star-struck or live in an over-priced monument to your success. You do it because deep down you’re rotten to the core. You’re a pathetic fraud who believes superior intellect bestows the right to dominate the lives of others and satiate your own wants at their expense. Like Heraclitus observed “ A man’s character is his destiny.” True then and ever so true now. Maybe Avennati wanted to be a lawyer too much and then only as a means to an end. At its best like all professions, it’s a calling to do service for others; at its worst, a warrant to be a wolf among the sheep. Avenatti had sharp teeth.

    1. Hi Nick!

      I hope are going good for your family.

      The wheels are still holding on here, knock on wood.

      If you need a laugh sometimes this new site might have one now & then: Memeworld.com.

      1. Oky, Doing well in my summer abode, San Diego. Liked your Johnny Cash song. We’re going to see Lyle Lovett in Escondido on Wed. My wife has a Dead Head loyalty to Lyle. She’s seen him play countless times.

        1. Nick,

          My wife really liked San Diego when she went out there for some speciality classes. I just know a bit of Cali north.

          Here we’re so busy years back I wish now we’d made time to go see some of those greats like Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, etc., while they were still with us.

          Merle has some kids in the music. One sounds just like him and the Hank Williams Sr has at least one grand son that has nearly a perfect voice match.

          I don’t know that they are doing much.

          I’ll have to pull up Lyle Lovett for a refresh course.
          I see that Lovett name & it makes me think of John Lovett, the actor that had a couple.

          Hope guys enjoy the show.

      1. mespo, I read your assessment of Avenatti in another comment. You nailed it. JT knew him as a kid whose greed glands had not started flowing. At least he’ll be going to a Federal prison. Better digs than state joints.

  3. I can’t say I’ve ever been less impressed with a herder of cattle the this Moron, friend of Turleys.

    What’s his name? ( don’t care) I thought that the first I heard of him.

    Let me explain, there are guys/gals here that running real massive cattle operation 10 k, 30 thousand acres of cows & foliage. Huge. More cows then people in many areas. I like it better that way.

    Then there are operations like the one that was called Night Trips in Tulsa, a bit like operation chrome dome was trying to run through a law office.

    I remember driving past the biz paying not much attention to it & then one day of the talk radio news it said the owner of herding operation had a piece of property in Ottwa Country, Ok in which law enforcement had found something like 50 bodies but they had to stop digging for the weekend because of the rain.

    I was thinking: What Hell is that?

    I looked, but else was ever said.

    May his mother & God love him as no one else likely will.

  4. Why does everyone go off on “private jets” (which are usually actually commercial charters.) Those who can afford them use them for convenience – there’s no waiting in lines, no sitting in terminals and no crowds. In some cases, they’re even less costly than the airlines. The irony is that corporate airplanes could have been the salvation of the national economy as they allowed corporations to maintain contact with facilities in less urbanized areas. Sadly, greedy companies and executives who wanted luxury instead of convenience have pretty well destroyed the actual private aircraft industry, leaving greedy aircraft management firms like Net Jets who sell time at exorbitant prices.

  5. This is not some Shakespearean tragedy; Mr. Avenatti was a cynical, amoral SOB who stole from many people – including needy client .

    He damaged many lives.

    What I do enjoy is the worshipful accolades from the Pinkos – they reveled in the thought of Avenatti thumping Trump. Where are those fans now?

      1. For Federal cases cases you can get a subscription to PACER, where you pay a reasonable fee to download anything that has been filed in a federal court proceeding. In state courts, I would suggest trying the website of the individual court; for example Los Angeles County Superior Court. There is also LEXIS and Westlaw, but they are commercial enterprises and much more expensive.

    1. That only happens if you get in the cross-hairs of a liberal mascot group. Adam Clayton Powell’s alma mater has an award named for him.

  6. I’m watching CNN tonight. At the height of his popularity with the media including MSNBC and most Democrats, they were touting him as a possible presidential candidate.
    Professor Turley, you can’t win them all, but I bet 99% of your students were glad to have you as their professor.

  7. Avenatti Found Guilty and these guys not?

    The former tries to take some small modicum of money.

    The latter try to take an entire nation which has a market cap of $31 trillion.

    The Obama Coup D’etat in America is the most egregious abuse of power and the most prodigious scandal in American political history.

    The co-conspirators are:

    Bill Taylor, Eric Ciaramella, Rosenstein, Mueller/Team, Andrew Weissmann, Comey, Christopher Wray, McCabe, Strozk, Page, Laycock, Kadzic,

    Yates, Baker, Bruce Ohr, Nellie Ohr, Priestap, Kortan, Campbell, Sir Richard Dearlove, Steele, Simpson, Joseph Mifsud, Alexander Downer, Stefan

    “The Walrus” Halper, Azra Turk, Kerry, Hillary, Huma, Mills, Brennan, Gina Haspel, Clapper, Lerner, Farkas, Power, Lynch, Rice, Jarrett, Holder,

    Brazile, Sessions (patsy), Nadler, Schiff, Pelosi, Obama et al.

  8. I can appreciate your sadness and sympathize with you. Hopefully, your former student will do his time, learn some lessons and one day, take his talents and excel at something. Somehow, however, I doubt it – his kind, self entitled and full of themselves, seldom learn. At least he will no longer be able to practice law, or appear on CNN. His 15 minutes are over.

  9. Open Letter to CNN: Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. “He that lieth down with dogs shall rise up with fleas” (Poor Richard’s Almanac) Open Question to USA: Which one is the dog?

  10. “I am terribly saddened as I think of that young, ambitious lawyer who sat in my office asking to become a research assistant. As shocked as I was by these charges, I still cling to the memory of that young law student breaming with talent and drive. He was ultimately undone not by this aptitude but his appetite. That is the true tragedy.”
    I’m sadder still for every client who had the misfortune to come into contact with this vulture in a $3,000.00 bespoke suit. This wasn’t a Shakespearean tragedy where a hero takes a fall “foretold in his stars.” This is a shyster taken down as the “thug with a JD” the jury so-rightly found him to be — from his own words. Now he gets to explain stealing from a paraplegic client who trusted him to do what all of us in the profession pledge to do — care for them above ourselves.

    Aptitude without ethics is not talent; it’s just base cunning.

    1. Host: “As a gesture of goodwill, we agreed not to use that nickname…”
      Banner caption: “Creepy porn lawyer toying with 2020 run……….Hurricane Florence Winds 100 MPH Gusts 120 MPH.”

      What if nature pitted two cyclones against each other in a Mono a Mono fight to the death. They could match up at the equator, one clockwise, the other anti-clockwise and settle the Coriolis Effect dispute once and for all. I’ll bet on clockwise rotation, since time has been traditionally on its side.

  11. Sorry to hear this Professor Turley. While I didn’t respect some of his on-air comments, I respect you as a professor. It shows you value your students and I will say a prayer for Michael

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