The California State Bar Association Monday said it filed a petition to have Los Angeles attorney Michael J. Avenatti placed on “involuntary inactive status” in advance of the “reasonable probability” he’ll be disbarred.
Avenatti has 10 days to respond and request a hearing.
The Bar went a step further and added a “consumer alert” that the embattled now-former attorney for adult film actress Story Daniels and other high-profile clients “engaged in a major misappropriation of client funds” and it’s buyer beware.
Avenatti did not immediately respond to a text message request for comment by Heavy, but did address the State Bar’s move on Twitter.
“The action by the CA State Bar is nothing more than a ‘pile-on’ and was entirely expected in light of the pending charges. I offered to cooperate with the Bar and instead they decided to issue a press release as a stunt. I look forward to being fully exonerated by the facts.”
The press release from the State Bar was issued through PR Newswire.
The action to suspend him from practicing law alleges “that the licensee’s conduct poses a substantial threat of harm to clients or the public. The petition involves a charge that the licensee engaged in a major misappropriation of client funds,” the State Bar wrote.
Avenatti is facing multiple cases in New York and California. In the latter, The US Attorney charged him with bank and wire fraud. Avenatti, 48, is alleged to have “embezzled a client’s money in order to pay his own expenses and debts” including his coffee business Global Baristas US LLC, which operated Tully’s Coffee cafe’s in California and Washington state, and also “defrauded a bank by using phony tax returns to obtain millions of dollars in loans.”
The two-count felony complaint charges him with wire fraud and bank fraud. In the SDNY, the attorney for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh accuser Julie Swetnick, he’s charged in a federal case that alleges he tried to extort Nike.
“The State Bar of California has filed a petition to enroll this licensee on interim inactive status, alleging that the licensee’s conduct poses a substantial threat of harm to clients or the public,” the Bar has posted in an alert for the public on his association profile.
The voluminous, near 530-page petition filed by the California State Bar against Avenatti can be read here.