The feds allege that Avenatti then funneled the information to the Washington Post; a few days later, Fry and 'Reporter-1' - Ronan Farrow of the New Yorker - exchanged a series of WhatsApp messages about the same banking information.
In the days that followed, Avenatti tried to create more media interest in the story by tweeting about the information.
"Why is no media outlet doing a story on the refusal of the Treasury Department to release to the public the 3 Suspicious Activity Reports that were filed concerning Essential Consultants, LLC's bank account?" Avenatti tweeted on May 9, 2018.
After the release of the Fry charges on Thursday, Avenatti denied wrongdoing.
"Neither I nor R. Farrow (Reporter-1) did anything wrong or illegal with the financial info relating to Cohen’s crimes," Avenatti said on Twitter in a post on Thursday evening, as he claimed that Fry had not violated the Bank Secrecy Act by disclosing the SAR information.
Prosecutors said if Fry was convicted, he could face a maximum of five years in prison, and a fine of $250,000.
In October of 2018, charges were filed against an official in the Treasury Department for illegally leaking financial information about bank transactions by certain people involved in the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 elections.
Those disclosures by Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards, a senior official in the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, pertained to 'suspicious transactions' related to Paul Manafort, Richard Gates, Russian diplomatic accounts, and other matters.
"At the time of EDWARDS’s arrest, she was in possession of a flash drive appearing to be the flash drive on which she saved the unlawfully disclosed SARs, and a cellphone containing numerous communications over an encrypted application in which she transmitted SARs and other sensitive government information to Reporter-1," the Justice Department said at the time.
That 'Reporter-1' was also Ronan Farrow of the New Yorker.