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Judge: Michael Avenatti must pay $4.85M in ex-lawyer's suit

Porn actress Stormy Daniels' lawyer Michael Avenatti must pay $4.85 million to an attorney who worked at his former law firm, a California judge ruled Monday in an order that holds the potential presidential candidate personally liable in a lawsuit over back pay.

The Los Angeles judge ordered the payout the same day a separate ruling came down evicting Eagan Avenatti LLC from its office space in Southern California after four months of unpaid rent.

In the case over back pay, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Dennis Landin ruled that Avenatti personally guaranteed a settlement with attorney Jason Frank, who said Eagan Avenatti misstated its profits and that he was owed millions of dollars.

Avenatti, who is best known for representing Daniels in her lawsuit against President Donald Trump following an alleged 2006 affair, did not appear at Monday's hearing and never filed arguments in the case.

He told The Associated Press that Frank owes him and the firm $12 million "for his fraud." He did not provide details and declined to comment further. It's unclear whether Avenatti has filed any litigation in the matter against Frank, whose attorney said Frank doesn't owe Avenatti a dime and that saying so is defamatory.

Avenatti, who is toying with a possible 2020 presidential run, can appeal the ruling but since he never filed arguments about why he shouldn't have to pay the $4.85 million, any such effort would be "dead in the water," said Frank's attorney, Eric George.

"He's managed to delay this for ages," George said. "At the end of the day, this is money that's owed. No matter how you try to spin it, it comes back to the fact that he took money, it wasn't his and now there's a judgment saying it's owed to my client."

Frank had worked at Avenatti's former firm under an independent contractor agreement and was supposed to collect 25 percent of its annual profits, along with 20 percent of fees his clients paid, court documents say.

"It'll be important to keep an eye on him and sources of money that are coming in, see what his assets are, and take it from there," George said.

Meanwhile, Orange County Superior Court Judge Robert Moss issued an order Monday terminating Eagan Avenatti's lease from office space in Newport Beach and ordering the law firm to pay $154,000 for four months of back rent. No one appeared in court on behalf of the firm.

Monday's developments came five months after a U.S. bankruptcy court judge ordered the firm to pay Frank $10 million. The $4.85 million for which Avenatti is now personally liable is in addition to that judgment.

In July, the Justice Department accused Avenatti of making misrepresentations in the bankruptcy case and said his former law firm owed more than $440,000 in unpaid federal taxes.

Avenatti's lawyer said at the time that the matter had been resolved. The Justice Department insisted that settlement negotiations were continuing but the debt was still owed.

The ruling against Avenatti comes a week after a federal judge dismissed Daniels' defamation lawsuit against Trump, saying the president made a "hyperbolic statement" against a political adversary when he tweeted about a composite sketch that Avenatti has released.

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, sued Trump in April after he said a composite sketch of a man she said threatened her in 2011 to keep quiet about an alleged affair was a "con job." Avenatti has appealed the ruling.

The defamation claim is separate from another lawsuit that Daniels filed against Trump, which is ongoing. Daniels was paid $130,000 as part of a nondisclosure agreement signed days before the 2016 election and is suing to dissolve that contract.


Balsamo reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Catherine Lucey contributed from Washington.

Hailey Baldwin reportedly files trademark for 'Hailey Bieber'

Hailey Baldwin has filed a trademark to register the name “Hailey Bieber.”

The Blast obtained documents filed by Baldwin on Oct. 10, nearly a month after her reported courthouse wedding to singer Justin Bieber. The filing was for the purposes of a clothing line, the website reported.

>> Read more trending news 

People reported that, according to a source, the wedding was Baldwin’s doing.

“The city hall marriage was her idea. It was ‘you and me against the world,’” the unnamed source said. “Let’s show (everyone) we’re serious and it’s not just some crazy fling.”

Related: Reports: Justin Bieber, Hailey Baldwin get marriage license

Although Baldwin denied she was married in a since-deleted tweet last month, The Blast reported that the two referred to each other as husband and wife during a visit to Stratford Perth Museum in Stratford, Ontario, Oct. 1.

“We were so pleased to have such a warm and special guest visit the museum yesterday (along with her very special husband,” the museum said in an Instagram caption of a chalkboard message Baldwin wrote to Bieber.

“Justin very graciously introduced Hailey as his wife. Perhaps just a term of endearment? We loved their visit,” the museum said in the post’s comments.

'Wonder Woman' sequel pushed back to summer 2020

The world will have to wait a little longer for the "Wonder Woman" sequel, which will now arrive in theaters in summer 2020.

Warner Bros. announced Monday that "Wonder Woman 1984" will now open on June 5, 2020. The film starring Gal Gadot as the Amazonian superhero had been slated for a November 2019 release.

Patty Jenkins is returning as director and has teased fans with tidbits about the series' time jump to the 1980s.

The first "Wonder Woman" was a major blockbuster for Warner Bros.' DC Comics franchise. The film earned more than $800 million globally. The original became the most successful live-action film directed by a woman.

The sequel would have been released a month after the "Joker" which is scheduled to open on Oct. 4, 2019.

Billionaire Boys Club's Joe Hunt seeks cut in life sentence

The young Joe Hunt once used his intelligence, a high-energy salesman's patter and powers of persuasion to get wealthy friends to invest in his Billionaire Boys Club to fuel an opulent lifestyle that abruptly ended with a first-degree murder conviction and a prison sentence of life without the possibility of parole.

Now he's using those same skills in to try to close the biggest deal of his life.

He's calling on California Gov. Jerry Brown to make him eligible for parole and give him a chance to leave prison after spending 34 years behind bars.

A Los Angeles County jury convicted Hunt in 1987 of killing Ron Levin, who disappeared in 1984. Prosecutors have said Hunt killed Levin over a false promise to rescue the financially struggling "club," which purported to invest members' money in commodities but was mostly a Ponzi scheme that relied on new cash infusions to keep it afloat.

Hunt argues Levin faked his own death to escape a pending fraud case. Levin's body has never been found.

Hunt, 59, is hoping to capitalize on Brown's desire to burnish his gubernatorial legacy during his last two months in office. The termed-out Democrat took office eight years ago vowing to reduce the prison population and reform harsh criminal justice laws, which includes reconsidering some life without parole sentences.

Brown's office said the governor has given 42 inmates with those sentences a chance at parole during his two terms in office.

With time running out on Brown's final term, Hunt and his family have launched a publicity blitz to sway the governor.

For most of an hour-long telephone interview with The Associated Press, Hunt displayed the same confident, enthusiastic and articulate hustle that he used to convince his wealthy high school buddies to join his "investment club" with their families' money. Hunt originally named the group after a favorite restaurant — Bombay Bicycle Club — but it became known as the Billionaire Boys Club because of the hedonistic gang's larger-than-life presence in Los Angeles.

During the interview, Hunt discussed prison culture, what he believes are inherent inequities in the legal system and — most of all — his claim of innocence.

But Hunt went quiet when asked what would happen if Brown turns him down. He tenaciously but fruitlessly fought for three decades to win his freedom in the courts. He said he had resigned himself to never leaving prison when he lost his final appeal in 2016 but that his hope was renewed after inmates serving the same sentence walked out of prison because of Brown's intervention.

"I see other men similarly situated getting commutations and figured 'Why not me, too?'" he said.

Brown's spokesman Evan Westrup declined comment on Hunt's appeal, saying the governor does not comment on commutation applications.

But Leslie Zoeller, the retired Beverly Hills police detective who led the Levin murder investigation, is opposed to Levin's release, saying "a man like that doesn't reform overnight." Zoeller said he remains convinced that "Joe Hunt did a great job of disposing of the body."

In 1984, the then 24-year-old Hunt was elated he had met Levin, who was 18 years older. Hunt thought Levin was the financial savior for a scheme badly in need of new investment. Hunt had squandered most of the original investments on luxury condos, sports cars and Armani suits.

"With high overhead, lavish personal spending and little income, the BBC was essentially a pyramid scheme," Hunt's attorney Charles Carbone wrote in his client's application to the governor.

Levin gave Hunt access to a $5 million commodities trading account and the two agreed to split profits. Hunt quickly racked up $13 million in profits, but when he went to cash out he discovered the account was not real.

Levin, who operated a video news agency, had convinced a brokerage house to open the dummy account. Levin told the brokerage firm he was working on an investment documentary, that Hunt was his subject and needed to believe the account was real for the project to work.

Prosecutors argued that Hunt was angry and humiliated when he discovered that summer that he was the target of Levin's hoax.

Levin went missing in the summer of 1984 and has never been found. Kevin Spacey played Levin in the 2018's financial flop "Billionaire Boys Club."

The jury convicted Hunt on the strength of club members' testimony that Hunt had bragged he killed Levin — and a macabre "to-do list" Hunt wrote that was found in Levin's home.

"Closed blinds, scan for tape recorder, tape mouth, handcuff, put gloves on, explain situation, kill dog," the note read.

Hunt said he wrote the note and left if for Levin to find to scare him. Hunt has always maintained his innocence and argued that Levin faked his death to evade a pending fraud case.

But now, he's changed tactics with Brown and is highlighting his stellar prison record of volunteer work, religious service and good prison behavior. His commutation cites his legal work with other inmates, helping them write briefs and fill out court forms.

Hunt's application also discusses in depth his embrace of yogi and meditation and a brand of Eastern religion as practiced by the Ananda Church of Self-Realization.

He was recently transferred so he could work helping other inmates at the California Health Care Facility at Stockton, a medical prison and much less stressful place for inmates than the maximum-security lockup where he spent most of prison time.

Hunt filed his commutation application in January, but has not heard back.

So he and his family recently launched a publicity campaign, with a website, and accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. His family has hired a publicist to arrange phone calls with reporters and he eagerly recounted his story.

"Was I a catastrophic, world-class jackass in in 1984? No doubt," Hunt said. "But it's not right that I get to be the garbage dump of everybody's peccadillos."

PBS docuseries 'Native America' recreates cultures pre-1492

The story of Native America taught in U.S. public schools usually begins at contact with European explorers. Children then get lessons about Thanksgiving, maybe the Trail of Tears or the 19th century wars over the removal of tribes in the American West. Rarely discussed is life in the Americas before Columbus' 1492 voyage.

A new four-part PBS docuseries entitled "Native America" seeks to recreate a world in the Americas generations prior to the arrival of Europeans. Using archaeology, Native American oral traditions, even high-tech 3D renditions, viewers are presented images of busy cities connected by networks that span from the present-day United States to South America.

The docuseries shows how Chaco Canyon in New Mexico became a busy spiritual and commercial center that stood five stories high in the desert sky, centuries before skyscrapers went up in New York.

They also discuss the tunnel under a pyramid in Teotihuacán, Mexico, that revealed an intricate belief system that was also found elsewhere. And outside present-day St. Louis, Missouri, 10,000 people helped erect massive earthwork pyramids into a city now known as Cahokia around the time the real-life Macbeth ruled Scotland.

Series executive producer and director Gary Glassman said the project took more than a year to plan because producers wanted to make sure they had buy-in from Native American communities the documentaries sought to cover. Filmmakers wanted to include animated pieces of sacred art and stories to illustrate the importance of the site and wanted to be sensitive, Glassman said.

"We wanted to give them ownership to their own stories," Glassman said. "It was about building trust."

That's how producers convinced Leigh Kuwanwisiwma, director of the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office of the Arizona tribe Hopi, to allow directors to briefly film a group of elders conducting a smoking ceremony at Chaco.

In one episode, Kuwanwisiwma explains the religious significance of the Kiva and how elders used the smoking ceremony to contemplate the power of the universe. "The bird world, the reptilian world, the animal world, the insect world...they are all part of who we are as Hopi people," Kuwanwisiwma tells viewers.

The docuseries then takes viewers to the rock art of the Amazons and the Haudenosaunee Confederacy of New York to show how similar spiritual theologies through diverse practices linked people thousands of miles apart from the pyramids of Mississippi to the Andes in present-day Peru.

The first episode of "Native America" is scheduled to air on most PBS stations on Tuesday. Other episodes will air on following Tuesdays until November 13.

Episodes will be streamed for free for a limited time after airings.


Associated Press writer Russell Contreras is a member of the AP's race and ethnicity team. Follow Contreras on Twitter at

Texas Christian football star suspended after arrest on assault charge

Texas Christian University suspended wide receiver KaVontae Turpin, who was arrested Sunday on an assault charge, coach Gary Patterson said in a Big 12 conference call Monday.

>> Read more trending news 

Turpin, who scored two touchdowns in the Horned Frogs’ 52-27 loss to Oklahoma, was charged with assault with bodily injury to a family member, the Fort Worth Star Telegram reported.

Turpin, a senior, is TCU’s all-time leader in special teams touchdowns with six in his career, WFAA reported. He scored on a career-best 99-yard touchdown against Oklahoma.

“Texas Christian University is aware that one of its students was recently arrested for a reported domestic situation,” school officials told Star-Telegram in a statement. “The university takes these types of reports very seriously and is continuing to gather information to determine next steps. TCU expects its students to behave in an ethical manner, abide by campus policies and adhere to state and federal law.”

Patterson said Turpin was unlikely to play against Kansas on Saturday.

“Everybody knows how I handle things like this,” Patterson said on the conference call. “My track record usually speaks for itself if you go back through it. We’re gathering information, but at this point in time he probably won’t play against Kansas.

“We have not received anything as far as information, police report, anything else. At this point in time, he knows how that all goes. All of (the players) do.”

Turpin was released from Tarrant County Jail, a spokesman said. The assault charge is a class A misdemeanor, and Turpin could face up to a year in prison and up to a $4,000 fine if convicted, the Star-Telegram reported.

A Fort Worth police spokesman said the incident involved Turpin and a woman, the newspaper reported. The spokesman did not say how Turpin and the woman were related but said a dating relationship would fall under “family member” assault.

Rowling, Tolkien, Austen novels vie for bragging rights

The results are in for an impassioned national election that put the popularity of candidates Jane Austen, J.R.R. Tolkien and J.K. Rowling on the line.

The effort to discover America's best-loved novel — and promote reading — ends with the winner announced on Tuesday's 8 p.m. EDT finale (check local listings) of PBS' "The Great American Read." The series profiled the contenders and let bookworms, famous and not, advocate for their pick.

More than 4 million votes were cast over six months, PBS said, with Austen's "Pride and Prejudice," Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" series and Rowling's "Harry Potter" saga making the top 10 on an alphabetical-order list that was released as voting wrapped last week.

The other front-runners were "Charlotte's Web" by E.B. White; "The Chronicles of Narnia" series by C.S. Lewis; "Gone with the Wind" by Margaret Mitchell; "Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Bronte; "Little Women" by Louisa May Alcott; the "Outlander" series by Diana Gabaldon; and "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee.

"Harry Potter" was among the multivolume series that counted as a single entry. Given its hold on the modern imagination on the page, screen and stage, it might be the obvious winner.

Eliyannah Yisrael, who discovered Rowling's magic touch about 15 years ago as a Chicago State University student, was among its vocal boosters on "The Great American Read" and beyond.

"Listen, me and 'Harry Potter' are going to take this thing to the end. I want to be victorious," Yisrael told a TV critics' gathering last summer.

Series host Meredith Vieira didn't spill the beans in a recent interview. But she was glad to tout the initiative's ripple effect, including a nearly 50,000-member online book club and more than 5 million views for series-related video content across PBS platforms, Facebook and YouTube.

"We forget the power of a book, not just on individuals but on groups of people. There's something wonderful about sitting down with your friends and talking about a book," Vieira said. "And ultimately with these novels you learn something more about yourself. They force you to question who you are, your values as an individual, your values as a society."

About a fifth of the 100 books were provocative enough that they've been censored in some manner, said series executive producer Jane Root, who called that number "astounding."

"We were expecting it to be two or three. But a huge number of books, I think because of their potency and the power of the relationship that you have with a really great book, they upset people," she said. "They disturbed the waters. They make people fearful."

Some popular books simply have a whiz-bang story to tell, with top 100 titles "Fifty Shades of Grey" and "The Da Vinci Code" making the point.

The list was based on an initial survey of about 7,000 Americans, with an advisory panel of experts organizing the 100-contender list. Books had to have been published in English but not written in the language, and one book or series per author was allowed.

A fair amount of regional partisanship emerged. Louisiana voters were alone in ranking native son John Kennedy Toole's "A Confederacy of Dunces" in the top 10, "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" was No. 6 in New York and Mark Twain's "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" was a front-runner with readers in his home state of Missouri.

Voters also went big for sci-fi and fantasy both past and present, with representatives including Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" and George R.R. Martin's "Game of Thrones" epic.

The point of "The Great American Read" initiative has been made no matter what work ends up as No. 1, Vieira said.

"Getting people to vote in a way is a gimmick," she said, a way to reinvigorate the love of reading and to foster discussions about why and how certain books resonate with people.

But while readers' passions may run high, she said, the divisiveness so rampant in politics is happily absent.

"It doesn't matter where you fall. People I've spoken to who liked books I didn't have inspired me to take second look at them, like 'Game of Thrones,'" Vieira said. "I don't leave a project like this and not feel optimistic."


This story has been updated to correct the spelling of author Diana Gabaldon's first name.




Lynn Elber can be reached at and on Twitter at .

Garth Brooks promises concert tickets to terminally ill cancer patient

Country music star Garth Brooks promised a terminally ill cancer patient tickets to a future concert after the Indiana woman missed the singer’s concert Saturday night, WSBT reported.

>> Read more trending news 

Vickie Frederick, of Elkhart, had tickets to Brooks’ concert at Notre Dame Stadium, but was unable to attend because of a bronchitis attack, the television station reported.

She was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer two years ago, but it had gone into remission. Delighted, Frederick, who said she is a big Brooks fan, bought tickets to the singer’s concert at the stadium, WSBT reported.

However, doctors told her three weeks ago that her cancer had returned and had spread to her lungs. Doctors told her the cancer was terminal.

“It’s hard to come back and explain to your family that, ‘I’m hit with it again,’” Frederick told the television station.

Although Frederick missed the concert, her two children attended and sent her an email. When she opened it, there was a video from Brooks, promising her tickets to a future concert of her choice, WSBT reported. Brooks also offered to pay her flight to the venue, the television station reported.

“I just went, ‘Oh my gosh, you know!!' And I said ‘Are you for real?!’” Frederick said. “I didn’t have any words.

“I will get well enough because I want to see Garth Brooks,” Frederick told WSBT, adding that she wanted to attend a concert next spring. “I’m not going to stop fighting until God tells me it’s time to go home and until the end. We will have to continue to prove him wrong.”

Mariah Carey announces 'Caution' 2019 world tour

Mariah Carey has announced a world tour in support of her upcoming album “Caution.” 

Rolling Stone reported that the 22-city date tour starts Feb. 27 in Dallas and goes across the U.S. and Canada through early April.

>> Read more trending news 

“I’m so excited to bring the CAUTION WORLD TOUR to you, starting Feb 2019!” Carey said on Twitter Monday. “I can't wait to perform songs from the new album + some of our favorites.”

Fans can get presale tickets by registering for the Honey B. Fly Live Pass. Early access starts Oct. 22.

Tickets are available for the general public Oct. 26 at 10 a.m. local time.

Carey’s 15th studio album, “Caution,” will be released Nov. 16. Fans who buy a ticket online get a digital or physical copy of the album, which includes the singles “GTFO,” “With You” and “The Distance” featuring Ty Dolla $ign. 

More information is at the singer’s official website. Tour dates are below.

Feb. 27: Dallas at The PavilionMarch 1: Houston at Smart Financial CentreMarch 2: Biloxi, Mississippi, at Beau Rivage TheatreMarch 5: Atlanta at Fox TheatreMarch 6: Louisville, Kentucky, at The Louisville PalaceMarch 8: Detroit at Fox TheatreMarch 9: Indianapolis at Murat TheatreMarch 11: Chicago at The Chicago TheatreMarch 13: Minneapolis at State TheatreMarch 15: Milwaukee at Miller High Life TheatreMarch 16: St. Louis at Stifel TheatreMarch 18: Pittsburgh at Benedum CenterMarch 20: Toronto at Sony Centre for the Performing ArtsMarch 21: Orillia, Ontario, at Casino Rama ResortMarch 23: Buffalo, New York, at Shea’s Performing Arts CenterMarch 25 : New York at Radio City Music HallMarch 28: Boston at Boch Center Wang TheatreMarch 30: Atlantic City, New Jersey, at Hard Rock LiveMarch 31: Washington, D.C., at The TheaterApril 3: Philadelphia at Metropolitan Opera HouseApril 5: Wallingford, Connecticut, at Toyota Presents Oakdale TheatreApril 6: Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, at Sands Bethlehem Event Center

Indiana museum to tell story of basketball great Larry Bird

A planned museum will tell the story of basketball great Larry Bird and his Indiana roots.

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb announced Saturday that the museum will be part of a convention center being built in Terre Haute in western Indiana. Bird plans to donate personal items and memorabilia from his career with the Boston Celtics, Indiana State University, the U.S. Olympic team and beyond, The Tribune-Star reported.

Holcomb predicts the museum will be a global draw, describing Bird as "Larry the Legend — Indiana's favorite son."

"To have this museum, which symbolizes what being a Hoosier is all about — hard work, determination and striving to be the best — and to have that in Terre Haute, that's just a match made in heaven and I can't wait to see it," Holcomb said.

Bird grew up in French Lick, Indiana. He created excitement during his days at Indiana State University in Terre Haute when he led the school to the NCAA title game in 1979, although the Sycamores lost to Magic Johnson's Michigan State team.

Bird's school pride carried over to his NBA career as a player, coach and executive. When the Celtics won the 1984 NBA Championship, Bird dedicated the win to Terre Haute.

Details about the museum are still being developed, but plans include interactive displays about Bird's life and career. He won three NBA championships with the Celtics.

Construction on the convention center is expected to start in the spring. The Vigo County Capital Improvement Board recently approved a more than $1.6 million contract with CSO Architects for the project.

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