As soon as a Trump Foil, Michael Avenatti Says Jail Therapy Was Payback

Michael Avenatti, who rose to prominence because the lawyer representing a pornographic movie actress in lawsuits towards former President Donald J. Trump and was later convicted of trying to extort Nike, is searching for tens of millions of {dollars} in compensation for harsh jail situations that he says had been retaliation for his outspoken criticism of Mr. Trump.

Mr. Avenatti’s claims come simply weeks earlier than he faces trial in Manhattan in one other felony case, on prices that he stole about $300,000 from Stormy Daniels, the actress, who was on the heart of a scandal throughout Mr. Trump’s first presidential marketing campaign. He has pleaded not responsible to these prices.

Mr. Avenatti’s attorneys stated he was searching for the compensation beneath the Federal Tort Claims Act, a legislation that may enable him to sue the federal government if the declare shouldn’t be settled inside six months.

“They handled him very in another way than anyone else in jail,” one in every of his attorneys, Zachary Margulis-Ohnuma, stated on Thursday. “As soon as that they had him in custody, they held him in a unit for violent criminals and terrorists.”

Mr. Avenatti, 50, was arrested and jailed in January 2020 after prosecutors stated he had violated the phrases of his bail in a fraud case he confronted in California. Mr. Avenatti stated in his declare that he had initially been held in solitary confinement within the Santa Ana Jail in Orange County and had then been taken to Manhattan and detained on the now-closed Metropolitan Correctional Middle, a lot of that point in its most safe wing, 10 South.

Historically, 10 South was used to carry detainees charged with terrorism and different infamous crimes. Its most notable current occupant was Joaquín Guzmán Loera, the Mexican drug lord often known as El Chapo.

“To take a person who has lived for many years with none felony convictions, no historical past of violence,” Mr. Avenatti stated in a cellphone interview with one in every of his attorneys on the road, “and inside 72 hours put him beneath these situations the place he’s housed in probably the most restrictive, diabolical unit in all the United States for pretrial detainees, is unheard-of.”

Mr. Avenatti’s declare, a duplicate of which was offered to The New York Occasions by his attorneys, says that whereas he was in detention, he spent about 94 days in solitary confinement or beneath locked-down standing. “For the overwhelming majority of that point interval, I used to be in 10 South,” he stated within the interview.

Final July, when he was sentenced to two and a half years in the Nike case, Decide Paul G. Gardephe of Federal District Courtroom noticed that Mr. Avenatti had been held “in horrific situations on the M.C.C. for greater than three months, in solitary confinement for a lot of the time and in lockdown for almost all of it; first, as a result of a loaded handgun had been smuggled by somebody into the ability, and later due to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

“Circumstances had been horrible,” the choose added. “It’s laborious to imagine they might happen in the US of America.”

Mr. Avenatti was launched from jail in late April 2020 and has been held in residence confinement in California ever since, one other of his attorneys, Daniel McGuinness, stated.

Mr. Avenatti stated within the papers that whereas he was on the M.C.C., he had been prohibited from talking with family members or associates, he had been offered no entry to recent air or recreation, temperatures at evening had been frigid, and he had been permitted to see the sky solely as soon as.

When he requested for studying materials, he stated in his declare, he was initially refused and was then offered one e-book: “Trump: The Artwork of the Deal.”

Mr. Avenatti says within the declare that the month after he was detained, a senior jail worker escorted him from a authorized go to to his cell and requested if he understood why he was being housed in 10 South.

In line with Mr. Avenatti’s declare, “The worker defined that the orders got here from the lawyer common” — William P. Barr on the time.

Mr. Barr, requested for touch upon Mr. Avenatti’s claims, responded with one phrase: “Ridiculous.”

A Justice Division spokeswoman declined to remark.

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