SANTA ANA (CNS) - Convicted attorney Michael Avenatti was released from a Manhattan jail today and was due to arrive in the Southland tonight to begin serving 90 days of house arrest under a unique judicial order stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, his attorney said.
Avenatti -- who was convicted in New York in February of trying to extort up to $25 million from Nike and is awaiting trial in Santa Ana for allegedly stealing several million dollars from clients -- was released from the Metropolitan Correction Center in New York this morning, attorney Dean Steward said.
An attorney who represented Avenatti in his divorce case met him in Manhattan and was accompanying him on a flight to Los Angeles, according to Steward, who said he's scheduled to pick up his client at Los Angeles International Airport tonight.
Avenatti has a “third-party custodian,” who will provide housing for him during the 90 days of house arrest, Steward said.
“He's a pal of his from many, many years ago,” Steward said, adding he did not want to identify the custodian.
Three months from now, Avenatti will self-surrender and the conditions of his release will be reevaluated, Steward said.
“Some of it could depend on the timing of the Stormy Daniels case,” Steward said of another pending trial for Avenatti involving allegations that he cheated the adult film star out of money owed her.
Avenatti rose to fame representing Daniels, who challenged a nondisclosure agreement that paid her for keeping quiet about an alleged affair with President Donald Trump, which he has denied.
If that trial -- currently scheduled for July -- is rescheduled, Judge James Selna may keep Avenatti out of jail, Steward said.
Avenatti will be under strict rules in his house arrest, in which he cannot leave the premises unless it is due to a medical emergency, the attorney said.
“It's the most restrictive bond I've ever been involved in,” Steward said. “He can't have access to a device with internet on it. If he has to use a phone he has to go old school and use a flip phone with no internet.”
There are some exceptions, such as going over evidence in the case with Steward on a computer with web access, the lawyer said.
Avenatti spent 15 days in isolation at the MCC to quarantine him to make sure he was free from COVID-19 before his release, according to Steward.
Steward successfully argued that Avenatti should be released because he contracted pneumonia last year, putting him at a higher risk of COVID-19. There was an outbreak of coronavirus at the MCC, Steward said.
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