SANTA ANA (CNS) - Embattled attorney Michael Avenatti today filed a motion in New York seeking to have the case involving embezzlement from adult film star Stormy Daniels transferred to federal court in Santa Ana.
The Southland-based attorney, who burst into the public representing Daniels in a dispute about a nondisclosure agreement with President Donald Trump, wants the case involving his representation of Daniels shifted from the Southern District of New York to the Central District of California, where Avenatti faces similar allegations of misappropriation of funds from his clients.
Avenatti's attorney, Dean Steward, argued in his motion in New York that the cases are similar and the law allows for a transfer for a variety of reasons involving judicial economy.
Avenatti was indicted in April for allegedly fraudulently misappropriating the funds of five clients in Southern California and that case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge James Selna.
A month later, prosecutors in New York got an indictment stemming from his representation of Daniels.
“Both indictments allege that Mr. Avenatti received funds related to the settlement of cases on behalf of clients, did not timely remit the full share of the settlement amount owed to his clients, and then lulled clients into believing that the settlement funds had not yet been received,” the motion reads.
If the case is not transferred to Santa Ana, the defendant “will have to defend himself in largely identical actions brought on opposite ends of the United States while paying for his and his attorneys' living and travel expenses,” the motion reads.
Avenatti argues that a defendant “should normally be tried where he lives,” and also cited the availability of witnesses, most of whom live in California.
“Upon review of the evidence, it appears that there are only likely two witnesses who reside in New York -- (Stormy Daniels') literary agent and publisher -- one or both of whom are alleged to have initiated the wire transfer,” the motion reads.
Daniels lives in Texas, according to the motion.
Avenatti also noted that all of his character witnesses live in California. In addition, “the vast majority” of documents and records are in California, the motion argues.
Avenatti also said that a trial on the Daniels case in California will help him better continue representing the clients he has here. He also cited the “significant financial expense” of shuttling back and forth to New York.
Avenatti is scheduled to return to court Monday before Selna to argue his motion seeking access to his law firm's computer records that he says he needs to aid in his defense. A bankruptcy receiver turned the servers over to authorities, Avenatti has argued in court papers.
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