FILE PHOTO: Lawyer Michael Avenatti speaks as he departs federal court in the Manhattan borough of New York, New York, U.S., May 28, 2019. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
(Reuters) – Michael Avenatti, the lawyer who represented porn star Stormy Daniels in lawsuits against U.S. President Donald Trump, has been sued by a paraplegic client who accused him of siphoning away a $4 million settlement he had won.
Geoffrey Johnson is seeking at least $9.5 million of compensatory damages, plus punitive damages, from Avenatti and several of his former colleagues in a complaint filed with the Orange County Superior Court in California.
Johnson’s law firm is expected to discuss the case at a press conference on Thursday.
The claims underlying the lawsuit are also part of federal prosecutors’ criminal case against Avenatti, who faces wire fraud, bank fraud, extortion and several dozen other charges over various matters in California and New York.
A lawyer representing Avenatti did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Prosecutors had accused Avenatti in April of diverting nearly all of the $4 million that Johnson obtained in a January 2015 settlement with Los Angeles County.
They said Avenatti used some proceeds to finance his coffee business and pay personal expenses, while giving Johnson periodic “advances” that never exceeded $1,900 and totaled only about $124,000.
Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Richard Chang