SANTA ANA — A California judge revoked attorney Michael Avenatti’s bail Wednesday, forcing a delay of his New York extortion trial set for next week after prosecutors said he was hiding assets from creditors to live lavishly.
U.S. District Judge James Selna said Avenatti, best known as the brash lawyer for porn actress Stormy Daniels, likely committed the new financial crimes and was a threat to engage in other crimes if he remained free.
In New York, U.S. District Judge Paul G. Gardephe said the disruption had thrown a trial scheduled to start in a week into chaos, and he noted that California prosecutors used evidence largely gathered last summer to make the surprising move.
The New York trial, in which Avenatti is charged with trying to extort up to $25 million from Nike, was supposed to begin with formal questioning of prospective jurors next Wednesday after they filled out questionnaires Tuesday.
Gardephe said he wants the trial to start no later than Jan. 27. Avenatti has pleaded not guilty and cited his skirmishes with President Donald Trump as proof that prosecutors targeted him.
Defense lawyers complained that they may need a longer delay because they have no money for trial now that Avenatti’s finances are viewed suspiciously.
Selna was asked to revoke Avenatti’s $300,000 bail and he did. “I believe the danger to the community is real and palpable,” Selna said in court.
Prosecutors described several schemes orchestrated by Avenatti to hide his assets from a client, a former legal partner and an ex-wife while living in an $11,000-a-month apartment, being chauffeured in a Mercedes and staying at luxury resorts.