The Baffling Case of Michael Avenatti or Why Do Some Really Smart People Make Really Stupid (Even Criminal) Decisions?

Michael Avenatti is the classic riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.  He truly had it all:  money, looks, fame and a skyrocketing career.  Mr. Avenatti was living in a $100,000 per month mansion in California, driving a Ferrari, owned a share of a private jet, was earning millions of dollars and was considering a run for President of the United States.  In addition to his very lucrative legal career, Mr. Avenatti owned Tully’s coffee and an auto racing team.

Mr. Avenatti was at the top of his career when he was hit with at least 38 federal criminal counts in California and New York for a variety of financial crimes including extortion, fraud, theft and failure to file and pay taxes.

It is almost unfathomable that Mr. Avenatti would fail to file or pay taxes.  The federal government has alleged that Mr. Avenatti did not file tax returns for at least the years 2011, 2012 and 2013.  Why didn’t he?  Even if Mr. Avenatti had paid his taxes per law, he still would have had millions of dollars left over.  Is his avarice so great that he would actually risk the rest of his life in prison throwing his amazing life away?  The thought is unfathomable but looks all too real.  He is now facing almost 400 years in prison!

Obviously, it is very hard to mount a defense to the allegation that you simply didn’t file and pay your taxes—either you did, or you didn’t.

The bottom line is that the human condition is often unpredictable and confounding.  His criminal defense attorneys can simply attempt to mitigate the charges and the penalties as much as possible by working with their client to pay all the back taxes, penalties, interest to the IRS and to make his clients whole.  The attorneys will also emphasize his good works and charitable deeds he has done in his life.  The bottom line is that Mr. Avenatti is in a very, very tough spot.

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