In a court filing, Avenatti said he intends to “change his plea and plead guilty to multiple counts in the indictment and request sentencing on those counts.” He said he has been unable to reach a plea deal with prosecutors despite recent efforts to do so.
“Mr. Avenatti wishes to plea in order to be accountable; accept responsibility; avoid his former clients being further burdened; save the court and the government significant resources; and save his family from further embarrassment,” the court filing said.
In 2019, Avenatti was indicted on multiple charges of defrauding his clients. According to the indictment, beginning in 2015, Avenatti executed a scheme to defraud five clients, one of whom was a paraplegic from whom Avenatti allegedly withheld a settlement payment of $4 million.
After Avenatti negotiated settlements for the clients that required payment to go to them, he would lie to the clients about the terms of the settlements, instead depositing the funds into attorney trust accounts he controlled, the indictment says. He would then embezzle and misappropriate those funds, according to the indictment, and to prevent discovery of his scheme, he would tell clients the settlement proceeds hadn’t yet been paid, among other tactics.