Michael Avenatti, the disgraced attorney who is representing himself on trial for allegedly stealing nearly $300,000 from adult film actress Stormy Daniels, rested his case on Tuesday without calling any witnesses to the stand.
Avenatti had originally indicated that he might testify in his own defense, but announced Tuesday that he had chosen not to because prosecutors had not proven their case. The 50-year-old California lawyer announced his decision in Manhattan federal court after telling Judge Jesse M. Furman that he had no witnesses in court who were ready to testify.
Avenatti made headlines representing Daniels in 2018 in her legal fights against then-President Trump.
He faces one count of wire fraud, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, and aggravated identity theft, which carries up to two years in prison. It’s the third time he has stood trial in two years.
Prosecutors say Avenatti falsely claimed to Daniels for months in 2018 and early 2019 that a publisher was not making timely payments from the $800,000 advance for her autobiography, "Full Disclosure." They say he was spending the payouts on payroll for his financially strapped law practice and on personal expenses for himself.
Daniels sued Trump because she wanted to go public with her claims that she had a tryst with him a decade before he ran for president. Avenatti represented her in those lawsuits as she sought to alter the terms of a $130,000 hush payment made shortly before the 2016 presidential election.
Avenatti has maintained his innocence. Prior to opening statements last week, his lawyers had said he was likely to testify.
But Avenatti chose to represent himself during cross-examination of his former office manager on the second day of the presentation of evidence and has been his own lawyer ever since, including when Daniels testified for two days last week.
Closing arguments were scheduled for Wednesday. Prosecutors have said they expect their arguments to take 90 minutes, while Avenatti expects his to take two hours.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.