KTLA – MUST CREDIT, NO ACCESS LOS ANGELES, NO USE US BROADCAST NETWORKS
Santa Ana, California – 13 June 2019
1. Wide, Geoffrey Johnson with attorneys at news conference
2. Close of Johnson's legs in wheelchair
3. SOUNDBITE (English) Geoffrey Johnson, suing Michael Avenatti:
"If it happened to me, it can happen to you. I hope we can send a message to lawyers like Mr. Avenatti and his firm that they won't get away with victimizing people like me."
4. SOUNDBITE (English) Dan Callahan, attorney:
"He hired Mr. Avenatti to represent him against the county of Los Angeles for physical injuries and emotional distress."
5. SOUNDBITE (English) Dan Callahan, attorney:
"That case was settled on January 21, 2015 for $4 million. That $4 million was paid to Mr. Avenatti's trust account five days later. However, this is where the embezzlement and the lies really kicked in. Mr. Avenatti did not tell Mr. Johnson of that settlement."
6. SOUNDBITE (English) Dan Callahan, attorney:
"On a one to 100 scale, the despicability of his conduct ranks 1,000."
A paraplegic man previously represented by Michael Avenatti has filed a lawsuit alleging the embattled lawyer neglected to pay him millions he was due in a settlement with Los Angeles County.
Geoffrey Johnson filed the lawsuit Tuesday against Avenatti and his former associates.
It claims they neglected to pay him after the county cut a $4 million check in 2015 in a settlement over severe injuries suffered in Sheriff's Department custody.
Johnson, who became paraplegic following a suicide attempt in jail, said Avenatti told him he would be paid once a trust had been established. Instead, Avenatti began sending him monthly $1,900 checks to purportedly front him some money, according to the lawsuit filed in Santa Ana.
Johnson said he learned he was duped earlier this year when Avenatti was charged in federal court with bank and wire fraud. Avenatti has pleaded not guilty and denied the allegations.
Avenatti said in a statement that the lawsuit claims are false and frivolous and that Johnson previously agreed he had conducted himself ethically.
Avenatti rose to fame representing porn actress Stormy Daniels in her battle to be released from a nondisclosure deal she had signed regarding an alleged affair with President Donald Trump.
He is frequently in the media and at one point contemplated running for president.
But Avenatti is now often on the defensive with criminal charges in New York and California, a former law associate seeking to collect a judgment against him, and a request by the California State Bar to place him on involuntary inactive enrollment.
Johnson said he has lost more than the settlement funds in the process, including a deal to buy a house and his Social Security benefits.
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