Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agents arrested celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti on Tuesday evening. This was during a break in a disciplinary hearing in Los Angeles following accusations that the lawyer stole nearly $840,000 from former client Gregory Barela.
“I can confirm that he was arrested by federal agents. I anticipate a bail hearing at 2 p.m. tomorrow in Magistrate’s Court in Santa Ana. I haven’t seen the details of the warrant, but should have it later this evening,” said Dean Stewart, Avenatti’s lawyer.
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Avenatti is accused of fraud, cheating on his taxes, and lying to investigators. He also allegedly embezzled funds from clients. Avenatti pleaded not guilty.
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Fox News reported that Avenatti did not return to the court when the hearing resumed. “His attorneys called for a sidebar with the judge and said he would not be able to return due to circumstances related to a criminal matter in Orange County,” said Fox News.
According to Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles, Avenatti was arrested on suspicion of violating his pre-trial release.
ABC News reported that during Avenatti’s testimony before his arrest, “he appeared disturbed and at times raised his voice, calling the hearing ‘nonsense’ and claiming that his former client Barela testified to ‘a lot of things that weren’t true.’”