Michael Avenatti’s lawyers sent a letter to Judge Paul Gardephe on Monday, complaining about the conditions in which he is being kept.
Stormy Daniels’ former attorney and brief presidential hopeful Michael Avenatti is having a rough time on the other side of the bars. His lawyer, Scott Srebnick, sent a letter to Judge Paul Gardephe on Monday, requesting Avenatti’s “immediate removal” from the Special Housing Unit in New York’s Metropolitan Correctional Center.
According to Srebnick, Avenatti is being held on the “most secure floor” of the facility in the cell formerly occupied by cartel leader Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, kept in solitary confinement 24 hours a day and under constant observation by an officer and two security cameras. The temperature of his cell reportedly dips into the 40s, necessitating that he sleep with three blankets. “Not surprisingly,” Srebnick wrote, “he has been having great difficulty functioning.”
Srebnick also claims that they “do not know the reason” for the conditions of Avenatti’s detainment and that it is interfering with his ability to mount a legal defense. In addition, “busy officers” are involved in any attempt to receive and review documents related to his case, creating what Srebnick characterized as an “untenable” situation.
“Under Mr. Avenatti’s current conditions of confinement, we cannot effectively prepare for trial and Mr. Avenatti cannot meaningfully assist in his defense,” he claimed. Srebnick wrote that government counsel has sent “several inquiries at my request” to have him moved to other accommodations, where he can store legal material, have access to a computer, and restored social privileges.
Prosecutors argue that Avenatti represents an “economic danger,” but Srebnick believes this does not offer adequate justification for perpetual solitary confinement. “There was no allegation that Mr. Avenatti was a risk of flight or that he posted a physical danger to anyone or to himself,” he said.
MCC Warden M. Licon-Vitale has responded to the complaints, saying that Avenatti is being held “for his own safety” because of the high profile of his case and his “notoriety.” Licon-Vitale did, however, back off on the document restrictions in his confinement, saying “moving forward, Mr. Avenatti can keep his legal materials in his cell.”
Avenatti is a relative newcomer to the Manhattan facility, transported there after spending three days in solitary confinement in a Santa Ana prison after an alleged violation of his bail.
The former Democrat celebrity is facing the potential of decades in prison after allegedly stealing $300,000 from porn actress and Trump accuser Stormy Daniels and attempting to extort Nike to the tune of about $25 million.