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Once a Trump Foil, Michael Avenatti Says Jail Treatment 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 making an attempt to extort Nike, is in search of thousands and thousands 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 legal case, on prices that he stole about $300,000 from Stormy Daniels, the actress, who was on the middle of a scandal throughout Mr. Trump’s first presidential marketing campaign. He has pleaded not responsible to these prices.

Mr. Avenatti’s attorneys mentioned he was in search of the compensation beneath the Federal Tort Claims Act, a legislation that may permit him to sue the federal government if the declare is just not settled inside six months.

“They treated him very differently than anybody else in prison,” one among his attorneys, Zachary Margulis-Ohnuma, mentioned on Thursday. “Once 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 mentioned he had violated the phrases of his bail in a fraud case he confronted in California. Mr. Avenatti mentioned 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 Center, a lot of that point in its most safe wing, 10 South.

Traditionally, 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 man who has lived for decades without any criminal convictions, no history of violence,” Mr. Avenatti mentioned in a telephone interview with one among his attorneys on the road, “and within 72 hours put him under these conditions where he is housed in the most restrictive, diabolical unit in the entire United States for pretrial detainees, is unheard-of.”

Mr. Avenatti’s declare, a duplicate of which was supplied to The New York Times 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 vast majority of that time period, I was in 10 South,” he mentioned within the interview.

Last July, when he was sentenced to 2 and a half years within the Nike case, Judge Paul G. Gardephe of Federal District Court noticed that Mr. Avenatti had been held “in horrific conditions at the M.C.C. for more than three months, in solitary confinement for much of the time and in lockdown for nearly all of it; first, because a loaded handgun had been smuggled by someone into the facility, and later because of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

“Conditions were terrible,” the decide added. “It’s hard to believe they could occur in the United States of America.”

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

Mr. Avenatti mentioned within the papers that whereas he was on the M.C.C., he had been prohibited from talking with kinfolk or mates, he had been supplied 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 mentioned in his declare, he was initially refused and was then supplied one e book: “Trump: The Art 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.

According to Mr. Avenatti’s declare, “The employee explained that the orders came from the attorney general” — William P. Barr on the time.

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

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to remark.

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