New York (CNN)Disgraced attorney Michael Avenatti was sentenced to four years in prison for stealing nearly $300,000 from his former client, adult film actress Stormy Daniels.
District Judge Jesse Furman said Avenatti’s conduct was “so brazen and egregious” adding, he “took advantage of a vulnerable victim given her unorthodox career and somewhat unorthodox beliefs.”
Avenatti was convicted in February of one count of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. He faced as much as 20 years on the wire fraud charge and a mandatory two-year sentence for aggravated identity theft.
Avenatti is currently serving a 30-month prison sentence for attempting to extort over $20 million from Nike by threatening to go public with damaging information unless they paid him. He goes on trial next month in California on charges alleging that he embezzled $10 million in settlement funds from at least five clients. He has also been charged with tax fraud and bankruptcy fraud and pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Part of Thursday’s sentence will be served alongside the Nike sentence, but Furman said Avenatti will have to serve an additional two and a half years after he completes the Nike sentence.
Avenatti was also ordered to pay $148,750 to Daniels and $297,900 to the US.
Furman told Avenatti: “I hope you put your formidable talents to better use.”
Avenatti, wearing a beige prison outfit, his ankles shackled, became emotional when he addressed the judge.
“I have destroyed my career, my relationships and my reputation and have done collateral damage to my family and my life,” he said while fighting back tears. Avenatti argued that for most of his career he had fought for the underdog.
“There is no doubt I made a series of mistakes and exercised poor judgment,” Avenatti said.
Furman said it is a “tragic, sad … sorry case” noting that Avenatti “is quite smart and has formidable legal skills. What changed? I don’t know the answer to that question.”
He said at some point Avenatti’s “healthy ambition” turned into “blind ambition.” The judge said Avenatti’s apology letter to Daniels was “too little, too late.”