Michael Avenatti is expected to be indicted on 36 criminal counts by federal grand jury in LA

Celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti is expected be slammed Thursday with a 36-count indictment by a federal grand jury in Los Angeles.

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The indictment, scheduled to be discussed at a press conference in Los Angeles at 9 a.m. PT, comes more than two weeks after federal prosecutors in Los Angeles and New York hit Avenatti with separate criminal complaints.

A press advisory issued by prosecutors says that the IRS is involved in the case, which suggests Avenatti will be charged with tax crimes.

Prosecutors in L.A. accused him in their prior complaint of defrauding a legal client by looting a $1.6 million civil settlement for that man to pay for Avenatti’s personal and business expenses.

He was also accused in that case of defrauding a Mississippi bank by using bogus federal income tax returns to apply for and receive $4 million in loans.

The indictment planned to be discussed Thursday has 34 more criminal charges against Avenatti than the two felony counts that prosecutors in Los Angeles lodged against Avenatti on March 25: bank fraud and wire fraud.

On Wednesday, federal authorities reportedly seized a private jet co-owned by Avenatti, valued at about $4.5 million, in connection with the investigation in Los Angeles.

In the New York federal case, Avenatti is accused of trying to extort more than $20 million from athletic shoe giant Nike by threatening to expose alleged bribery of amateur basketball players and their families unless the company coughed up cash to Avenatti and a client.

Reached for comment, Avenatti told CNBC in a text message, “For 20 years I have represented Davids vs. Goliaths and relied on due process and our system of justice.”

“Along the way, I have made many powerful enemies. I am entitled to a FULL presumption of innocence and am confident that justice will be done once ALL of the facts are known,” Avenatti added.

In a tweet, Avenatti said, “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 is free on $300,000 bail. It is not yet known when he will appear in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles for his first hearing on the new charges in the indictment.

As with the Los Angeles case, Avenatti is expected to be indicted by a grand jury in the New York case. Unless defendants in federal criminal cases agree to plead guilty, prosecutors have to obtain a grand jury indictment to push a case toward trial after filing a complaint.

Avenatti told CNBC’s “Closing Bell” on Monday that Nike “pulled a stunt” by having him arrested in New York before he could go public with his claims that the company was bribing high school hoop players to coax them into attending Nike-sponsored colleges.

Avenatti told CNBC that Nike “has been covering up this scandal for over five years.”

“They knew they could not control me. … They effectively had to shoot the messenger.”

Avenatti gained notoriety in 2018 for his representation of porn star Stormy Daniels in her legal cases against President Donald Trump and his former personal lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen.

Daniels was paid $130,000 by Cohen on the eve of the 2016 presidential election in exchange for her agreement to keep quiet about what she has said was a one-time sexual tryst with Trump a decade before. Trump denies having sex with her.

Cohen last year pleaded guilty to multiple federal crimes, including campaign finance violations related to his facilitating the payment to Daniels, and to a hush money deal paid by The National Enquirer to another self-admitted Trump paramour, Playboy model Karen McDougal. Trump likewise denies McDougal’s claim of an affair.

Cohen is set to begin serving a three-year prison term next month.

Daniels replaced Avenatti with a new lawyer last month.

When he was arrested on March 25, Daniels released a statement saying, “Knowing what I know now about Michael, I’m saddened but not shocked regarding his arrest.”

“I made the decision weeks ago to terminate Michael’s services after discovering that he had dealt with me extremely dishonestly, and I will have my own announcement coming soon.”

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