NEW YORK — Correction officers at Manhattan’s notorious federal jail let Michael Avenatti read only one book while behind bars: “The Art of the Deal” by former President Donald Trump, the disgraced lawyer says in a new $94 million legal claim.
“It’s a pretty clear message,” Avenatti’s lawyer, Daniel McGuinness, told the Daily News Friday. “And he was told, as it says in the claim, by a fairly high-level official that it was coming from D.C. — that it was coming from the main Justice.”
The convicted attorney, saddled with mountainous debt, is demanding the federal Bureau of Prisons pay him $1 million for every day he was held in solitary confinement at the now-shuttered Metropolitan Correctional Center. He claims jail staff provided him with Trump’s memoir during his confinement and nothing else when he asked for reading material.
Avenatti spent time in the lockup from January to April 2020 while on trial for extorting Nike for $22.5 million, and about six weeks following his conviction. The jail is notorious for housing Jeffrey Epstein when he killed himself. The judge who presided over the Avenatti case acknowledged the attorney had been held in “horrific conditions” before sentencing him to two years and six months in prison.
Avenatti alleges that then-Attorney General Bill Barr himself ordered his harsh treatment behind bars.
In a statement to The News, Avenatti said he looks forward to “holding Trump and Barr accountable for what they did to me in the interest of politics and revenge. I’m not done fighting.”
Avenatti was once a near-constant presence on 24-hour news. His arrest in 2019 began his downfall, which is still not complete. He is expected to stand trial in Manhattan Federal Court on Jan. 24 on charges he ripped off the client who made him famous — porn star Stormy Daniels — out of a $300,000 book deal. Daniels claims to have had an affair with Trump. Avenatti faces more embezzlement charges in California, where he has been under house arrest since April 2020.
In his claim against the BOP, the disgraced lawyer says MCC correction officers placed him in the cell once occupied by Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. In the neighboring cells were four accused terrorists and an accused CIA leaker.
“It’s just insane that Avenatti was held there,” McGuinness said.
A spokesman for the BOP did not respond to a request for comment.