April 11, 2019 / 3:00 PM / 11 days ago

Officials expected to announce federal criminal indictment of attorney Michael Avenatti

April 11 (Reuters) - Authorities were expected on Thursday to announce Michael Avenatti’s indictment by a federal grand jury in California on 36 criminal counts, officials said, just weeks after the attorney was hit with separate criminal complaints in New York and Los Angeles.

Avenatti, best known for representing pornographic film star Stormy Daniels in her legal battles with U.S. President Donald Trump, has proclaimed his innocence.

Officials from the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Internal Revenue Service were due to announce the new grand jury indictment at 9 a.m. PDT (1600 GMT) in Los Angeles, according to a news release.

“I intend to fully fight all charges and plead NOT GUILTY. I look forward to the entire truth being known as opposed to a one-sided version meant to sideline me,” Avenatti wrote on Twitter on Thursday.

Avenatti has already been charged with fraud and embezzlement in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana, California, and is charged in a separate federal complaint in New York with what prosecutors said was an attempt to “shake down” Nike Inc for more than $20 million.

Avenatti became a prominent critic of Trump and a frequent cable TV guest while representing Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford. She filed a lawsuit against the president over a nondisclosure agreement that in the weeks before the 2016 U.S. presidential election kept her from discussing her claims that they had an extramarital affair 10 years earlier.

Avenatti also involved himself in the investigation of sexual abuse charges against R&B singer R. Kelly by giving the Chicago state’s attorney’s office what he said was a tape of the performer having sex with an underage girl.

In the cases previously announced, Avenatti faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted on the California charges and up to 20 years in the New York case. Federal sentencing guidelines typically call for defendants to serve less than the maximum time. (Reporting by Gina Cherelus and Daniel Wallis; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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