Afederal judge in Santa Ana, California has rejected a plea from convicted lawyer Michael Avenatti to be released from jail because of the risk he could contract the coronavirus.
“We are deeply disappointed,” Avenatti’s attorney Dean Steward said Saturday.
Avenatti was convicted in New York in February of attempting to extort up to $25 million from Nike. He has been in custody since January when prosecutors in Santa Ana alleged he broke federal and state laws while he was released on bond by hiding $1 million from his creditors, including an ex-wife and former law partner.
There is no basis to release Avenatti on medical grounds.
U.S. District Judge James V. Selna denied Avenatti’s corona request.
“The Court is mindful of the Covid 19 pandemic,” Selna wrote. “The Court accepts Avenatti’s showing that the had pneumonia about six months ago. However, there is no showing that his cellmate was infected by the virus, and there have been no reported cases of Covid 19 at the New York MCC.2 As the Government points out, much of Avenatti’s criticism about the facility relate to a different facility in Brooklyn. There is no basis to release Avenatti on medical grounds.”