Michael Avenatti freed from New York City jail after two-week virus quarantine

Erik Larson

Celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti, who was convicted of trying to extort millions of dollars from Nike Inc., was temporarily freed from a New York jail after a two-week quarantine and will head to California to serve a 90-day home confinement, his lawyer said.

Dean Steward said in an email that Avenatti was let out of Manhattan’s Metropolitan Correctional Center on Friday morning and will spend the confinement period preparing for two more criminal trials, one in California and another in New York.

Avenatti, who gained a national profile while representing the adult-film actress Stormy Daniels in a lawsuit against President Donald Trump, had asked to be released early, citing the risk that he might contract the coronavirus, which can spread easily in tightly packed jails and prisons. Avenatti had pneumonia late last year and is very susceptible to respiratory issues, Steward said.

Michael Avenatti

Thousands of non-violent inmates across the U.S. have been released early or allowed to serve home confinement due to the risk of infection, though civil rights groups say far more need to be let out to prevent a high death rate.

Avenatti didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

His release was conditioned on a $1 million bond and agreement to submit to GPS monitoring, according to an April 10 order by U.S. District Judge James V. Selna in Santa Ana, California, where one of his trials will take place. Avenatti will be confined at the home of a third party in Venice, California, the order said.

In the California trial, currently scheduled for August, Avenatti is accused of defrauding several of his clients. His next New York trial, over allegations he stole Daniels’s book advance, was postponed from April to July, and Steward said he would not be surprised if it was delayed again.

Avenatti has denied wrongdoing in all three cases and claims they’re politically motivated as a result of his clash with Trump.