Prosecutors say they expect to take three weeks to make their case. In one instance, they allege Avenatti collected $4 million from Los Angeles County for a man who suffered injuries in custody and was left paraplegic after a suicide attempt, paying out much smaller amounts that he told the man were advances.
In another case, prosecutors said Avenatti collected a $2.75 million settlement for a client and used the bulk of the money to buy a private plane.
In addition to these counts, Avenatti faces charges of bankruptcy, bank and tax fraud in California. He is expected to be tried on those allegations later this year after U.S. District Judge James V. Selna split a 36-count indictment into two trials.
Avenatti also faces another criminal case in New York in which he is charged with cheating Daniels out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Avenatti represented her in 2018 in lawsuits against Trump and often appeared on cable news programs to disparage the Republican president.
Daniels said a tryst with Trump a decade earlier resulted in her being paid $130,000 by Trump’s personal lawyer in 2016 to stay silent. Trump denied the affair.
Avenatti rose to prominence by sparring publicly with Trump but criminal fraud charges in California and New York disrupted his rapid ascent. He was sentenced in New York after being convicted of attempted extortion and other charges tied to his representation of a Los Angeles youth basketball league organizer who was upset that Nike had ended its league sponsorship.
Avenatti explored running against Trump in 2020 but his political aspirations evaporated when he was criminally charged. He pleaded not guilty to all charges and maintained he was a victim of politically motivated attacks.