His guidelines were 9 years at the low end.
This is a good example for judges around the country about how the guidelines make no sense. Many judges would have given him the high end of the guidelines after a trial for a lawyer who, the judge found, abused the trust of his client.
But the guidelines made no sense. Even for someone who went to trial. Even for a lawyer. Even for someone who had other cases pending. Even for someone who had a number of the piling-on enhancements (like sophisticated means, abuse of trust, and so on).
The fraud guidelines make absolutely no sense, and the judge in N.Y. (and it wasn't even Judge Rakoff) said so. Good.
Miami's very own Scott Srebnick handled the sentencing.
Here's an article about it:
Michael Avenatti was sentenced to two and a half years in prison Thursday after being found guilty of an extortion scheme against Nike, just one of the criminal cases against Stormy Daniels's former lawyer and the onetime left-wing media darling.
The Justice Department’s indictment against Avenatti charged him with extortion and wire fraud, saying he tried to extort at least $22.5 million from the sporting apparel company. His three-week trial began in late January 2020, and he was found guilty the next month.
Judge Paul Gardephe of the Southern District of New York, the presiding judge during Avenatti’s 2020 trial, sentenced him to an aggregate sentence of 30 months. The judge said in the New York City courtroom on Thursday, “Mr. Avenatti’s conduct was outrageous. He hijacked his client’s claims, and he used those claims to further his own agenda — which was to extort millions of dollars from Nike to enrich himself.” The George W. Bush appointee added: “Mr. Avenatti had become drunk on the power of his platform, or what he perceived the power of his platform to be. He had become someone who operated as if the laws and rules that apply to everyone else didn’t apply to him.”
UPDATE -- three factors that helped sway the judge to give a below-guidelines sentence were (1) Avenatti's remorse, (2) the failure to charge co-conspirator Mark Geragos (which caused a disparity), and (3) the conditions of his pretrial confinement (during COVID at MCC). From NBC:
Gardephe said that in the Nike scheme, “Mr. Avenatti’s conduct was outrageous.” "He hijacked his client’s claims, and he used him to further his own agenda, which was to extort Nike millions of dollars for himself,” said the judge, who also sentenced Avenatti to three years of supervised release for the case, in which Avenatti was convicted at trial last year. “He outright betrayed his client,” Gardephe said....
But Gardephe added that Avenatti deserved a lighter sentence than the range recommended by federal guidelines — from nine years to 11-years and three months — because, the judge said that for the first time in the case, “Mr. Avenatti has expressed what I believe to be severe remorse today.”
The judge also cited the brutal conditions in which Avenatti was kept for several months in a Manhattan federal prison after his 2019 arrest. And Gardephe sharply noted, in justifying the lower-than-recommended sentence, how federal prosecutors did not criminally charge Geragos in spite of what they have said was his active participation with Avenatti in the shakedown.
The judge ordered Avenatti, who remains free on bond, to surrender on Sept. 15 to begin his sentence, which Gardephe recommended be served in at the federal prison camp in Sheridan, Oregon.