Judge releases Michael Avenatti from jail over virus threat

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FILE – In this May 28, 2019, file photo, attorney Michael Avenatti leaves a courthouse in New York, after pleading not guilty to charges that he defrauded his most famous client, porn star Stormy Daniels. Avenatti’s attorney announced on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020, that Daniels’ credibility will be the central issue when his client goes on trial in April 2020. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — A judge has allowed Michael Avenatti to be temporarily freed from a federal jail in New York City and to ride out the coronavirus scare at a friend’s house in Los Angeles.

The attorney, who rose to fame representing porn star Stormy Daniels in lawsuits against President Donald Trump, petitioned last month to be released to home confinement. He said he was at high risk of getting the coronavirus because he had a recent bout with pneumonia and his cellmate at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan was removed due to flu-like symptoms.

On Friday, U.S. District Judge James Selna said Avenatti may stay at the home of Jay Mannheimer, near Venice Beach, during the 90-day release period but he first must get tested for COVID-19 and be quarantined for 14 days at a Federal Bureau of Prisons facility. He must also post $1 million bond and wear an electronic monitoring bracelet. The judge forbid Avenatti to use any digital devices with internet access.

Avenatti is awaiting a June sentencing after he was convicted of trying to extort $25 million from sportswear giant Nike. He also faces criminal trials in New York of defrauding Daniels and in Los Angeles of cheating clients and others of millions of dollars. He has denied wrongdoing.

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