Convicted attorney Michael Avenatti Wednesday was trying to raise $1 million so he can get out of a jail in Manhattan and begin house arrest in Southern California as he awaits another trial in New York and a third trial in Orange County, where prosecutors filed court papers objecting to granting him bail.
In a conference call with U.S. District Judge James Selna on Tuesday, defense attorney Dean Steward was told his client could be transferred out of the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City and spend time under house arrest in Southern California, but the judge set several conditions, including the $1 million bail.
Avenatti’s attorney said the earlier proposed $500,000 bail appeared to be the best he could do.
“Frankly, your honor, we can’t meet this,” Steward told Selna of the increased bond proposed by federal prosecutors. “I had to work very hard to get it as high as I could at this point, and a $1 million bond with $500,000 posted is simply not possible.”
Steward had proposed that Avenatti would stay at the Los Angeles home of a friend, Jay Manheimer. If Selna wanted Avenatti to stay in the New York area, he could reside with his brother-in-law Stephen Rodier in New Jersey, Steward said.
Another Avenatti friend, investment advisory firm CEO Hugh Bromma, has agreed to put up bail money, Steward said.
“If he has friends who have substantial assets — and that appears to be the description of Mr. Bromma — I infer that anything is possible,” Selna told Steward of the defendant’s ability to make the higher bail.
“I have an ultimate duty to protect the public here,” Selna said, calling Avenatti a “danger to the community.”
Selna ordered Avenatti into custody in January — before he was convicted in New York in February of trying to extort up to $25 million from Nike — when prosecutors in Santa Ana alleged he was engaging in a scheme to keep a step ahead of his various creditors while out on bail.
Avenatti is in day five of a two-week quarantine in the New York jail, because he had contact with an inmate who fell ill with symptoms associated with coroanvirus, Steward said. Avenatti could not be released until the quarantine is finished, so he has time to try to raise more bail money, Steward said.
The attorney has argued that Avenatti is at higher risk of COVID-19 because he had pneumonia last fall.
“I’m making efforts to try to comply with what the judge wants,’ Steward told City News Service. “Friends and family are seeing if we can identify someone who can take care of the bail situation.”
Avenatti has told his attorney “there have been four deaths (in the jail) due to coronavirus,” but the Bureau of Prisons would not confirm that, Steward said.
Avenatti is due to go on trial next month in New York in a case involving allegations that he ripped off former client Stormy Daniels. His representation of the adult film star in a nondisclosure agreement issue with President Donald Trump catapulted the attorney to fame.
Selna last Thursday moved Avenatti’s Santa Ana trial from May 19 to Aug. 18, because no trials are being held during the coronavirus emergency.