Attorney Michael Avenatti exits the courthouse in the Manhattan borough of New York City, October 8, 2019. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

Celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti has been convicted of embezzling nearly $300,000 from pornographic actress Stormy Daniels, whom he represented in lawsuits dealing with the Trump campaign’s efforts to cover up the candidate’s previous sexual encounter with Daniels.

Avenatti was found guilty of committing wire fraud and aggravated identify theft in stealing $300,000 of an $800,000 book advance entitled to Daniels under false pretense of authorization from the performer. The jury returned a guilty verdict after deliberating for 15 and a half hours.

The maximum sentence for the wire fraud conviction is 20 years imprisonment, while the mandatory sentence for the aggravated identity theft conviction is two years imprisonment.

Prosecutors claimed that Avenatti forged a document, pretending to be Daniels, that approved funneling the revenue from her autobiography, “Full Disclosure,” to a bank account managed by him.

Representing himself during the trial, Avenatti argued that he was owed a fraction of the proceeds from Daniels’ book given all the financial opportunities his law firm had afforded her over the years, including launching the book deal.

“I was her advocate, I was her champion. I put everything on the line. I wanted to help her,” he said. “According to the government, Michael Avenatti could never have believed that he had the right to be paid. That is ludicrous, and it is not supported by the evidence.”

There was some drama among the jury as members weighed the case. On Friday, the jury foreperson told U.S. District Judge Jesse M. Furman that one juror was “not going on evidence” and going off mostly emotion to determine Avenatti’s guilt or innocence. Avenatti then motioned to the judge to declare a mistrial, which the judge rejected and called “beyond frivolous,” according to court papers. On Thursday, jurors sent a note that they were could not agree on the wire fraud charge, to which Furman reminded them of their obligation to come to a conclusion despite the complicated nature of the case.

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