by Peter Hasson, The Daily Caller:
- A paraplegic former client sued Michael Avenatti for allegedly siphoning off a $4 million settlement.
- The client, Geoffrey Johnson, is seeking a minimum of $9.5 million in damages.
- Avenatti allegedly concealed the settlement from Johnson for years while draining its funds.
A paraplegic former client of Michael Avenatti is suing the attorney for allegedly siphoning off the “vast majority” of a $4 million settlement awarded to the client.
The lawsuit is the latest blow to Avenatti, who rose to fame as the attorney for porn star Stormy Daniels and was once considered a possible Democratic presidential candidate.
The former client, Geoffrey Johnson, received a $4 million settlement in early 2015 after suing Los Angeles County for alleged abuse from guards and inmates while he was held in jail, the lawsuit states. Johnson had been improperly arrested as a result of mental health issues, according to his attorneys.
For years after receiving the settlement on Johnson’s behalf, Avenatti led Johnson to believe that the county hadn’t yet paid the settlement and would only pay it out over a period of years, according to the lawsuit. Avenatti allegedly paid Johnson a $1,900 monthly “advance” on the settlement.
“In approximately February 2019, Johnson asked Avenatti again about the status of the special needs trust and settlement payment. Avenatti falsely told him that Los Angeles County had not yet begun releasing the settlement funds,” the lawsuit states. (RELATED: Michael Avenatti Says Joe Biden Using ‘My Slogan And Theme’)
Johnson lost his Social Security benefits beginning in February as a result of Avenatti’s deceit, according to the complaint. Avenatti allegedly provided the Social Security Administration with “false information” in “a further attempt to hide the siphoning of Johnson’s settlement funds and the successful, years-long effort to cover it up,” the complaint states.
Avenatti allegedly forced Johnson in March to sign a statement describing Avenatti as an “ethical, honest and ethical attorney,” roughly one month before Avenatti was indicted on a litany of federal charges.
“I never thought I would get victimized by my own attorney,” Johnson said Thursday at a press conference about the lawsuit, which his attorneys filed Tuesday in California’s Orange County Superior Court.
“On a 1-to-100 scale, the despicability of [Avenatti’s] conduct ranks 1,000,” Daniel Callahan, Johnson’s lawyer, said at the press conference.