Disgraced former celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti was sentenced in a California federal court to 14 years in prison for stealing millions from four former clients. U.S. District Judge James Selna imposed the sentence to Avenatti, who had pleaded guilty to four counts of wire fraud and one count of obstructing the Internal Revenue Service. Prosecutors said Avenatti, 51, lied to former clients about settlement agreements he had negotiated for them and secretly spent some of the proceeds. He also obstructed the IRS’s efforts to collect more than $3 million in payroll taxes from a coffee business he owned. Selna ordered Avenatti to pay nearly $11 million in restitution to the former clients and the IRS, the Wall Street Journal reports. “Michael Avenatti was a corrupt lawyer who claimed he was fighting for the little guy,” said U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada. "He only cared about his own selfish interests.” H. Dean Steward, a lawyer for Avenatti, will appeal the sentence, calling it "off-the-charts harsh.” Avenatti is serving a combined five-year term in prison for two separate felony convictions in Manhattan federal court, including for stealing $300,000 from adult-film actress Stormy Daniels. Avenatti pleaded guilty to some charges in the California embezzlement case after a judge last year declared a mistrial.
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