The porn star, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, inked a book deal that year with St. Martin’s Press after it was revealed she was paid $130,000 in hush money before the 2016 presidential election to keep quiet about an alleged sexual encounter she had with Donald Trump years earlier.
To pull off his scheme, prosecutors showed, Avenatti forged Daniels’ name on a letter to her literary agent that directed him to wire two payments meant for the adult entertainer into a bank account he controlled.
Daniels was the government’s star witness at the trial and told jurors that she did not give Avenatti permission to keep the money owed to her through the book contract.
“He stole from me and lied to me,” she said on the witness stand.
Daniels added that Avenatti had promised her he would “never take a penny from me for the book.”
Prosecutors showed jurors documents related to the book deal, as well as a series of text messages between Avenatti and Daniels, which proved how he repeatedly lied to his client about the money.
When she didn’t receive the payments on time, Daniels asked Avenatti about the missing cash, according to the text messages.
“I did not get paid today. I am not f–king happy,” she said in one of the messages about a month after she was due to receive her second payment in 2018.
“The publisher owes me a payment … This is bulls–t,” she wrote in another.
Instead of coming clean about the theft, Avenatti told her he would “figure out” what happened — even though he had already received and spent the money.