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Judge revokes bail for Avenatti, cites new crime evidence

SANTA ANA, Calif. — A federal judge revoked bail Wednesday for attorney Michael Avenatti after prosecutors detailed evidence of new financial crimes he committed while he was free and facing trials in New York and California.

Judge James Selna said Avenatti, best known as the brash lawyer for porn actress Stormy Daniels, likely committed the crimes and was a threat because of the prospect he would continue committing crimes while free.

“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.

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He pocketed $1 million in legal fees during the period and then shifted the money around to conceal the payment despite mounting debts that surpassed $20 million, prosecutors said. After receiving the money, he even sought legal representation from a public defender while declining to provide a financial affidavit to show his ability to afford a lawyer.

Defense lawyers contested the evidence, saying Avenatti didn’t hide funds, has been paying his bills, and posed no threat. Attorney H. Dean Steward said Avenatti was making it difficult for creditors but didn’t commit any crime.

“I suggest it doesn’t go over the line,’’ Steward said.

The new twist in a saga playing out on opposite coasts threatens to disrupt Avenatti’s trial scheduled next week in Manhattan on charges he tried to extort $25 million from
Nike, a New York federal judge said during a hearing Wednesday.

‘‘The arrest of Mr. Avenatti this close to the trial has essentially thrown the trial into chaos,’’ US District Judge Paul G. Gardephe said.

Gardephe said he would consider postponing the case after he learned the outcome of the bail hearing in Santa Ana.

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