Stormy Daniels’ disgraced lawyer Michael Avenatti faces 42 years in prison after being found GUILTY of trying extort Nike for $25M by threatening to ‘expose evidence they bribed college basketball players’
- Michael Avenatti was convicted on Friday of honest services fraud, extortion and interstate communications with intent to extort
- He faces 42 years behind bars in that case but is also charged in two others
- Last March, he threatened to expose Nike’s alleged payment to college basketball players unless the company paid him $25million
- Prosecutors said he was drowning in $10million of personal debt at the time
- Separately, Avenatti is charged in California in a sweeping, 36-count tax fraud indictment
- Those charges carry a maximum sentence of 335 years behind bars; the case has not yet gone to trial
- He is also charged in New York for stealing $300,000 from Stormy Daniels
Michael Avenatti, the lawyer who gained fame by representing porn star Stormy Daniels against President Trump, has been convicted of trying to extort Nike for $25million.
The 48-year-old lawyer was convicted by a jury in New York on Friday after a three-week trial in which he was accused of threatening to use his media access to hurt Nike’s reputation and stock price unless they paid him up to $25 million.
He was charged last year after the sportswear company accused him of threatening to expose Nike for allegedly funneling payments to college basketball players.
Avenatti, who denied the allegations, was convicted on Friday on all three counts: Attempted extortion, honest services wire fraud and transmission of interstate communications with intent to extort.
The maximum sentence is 42 years behind bars.
Avenatti glared at the jurors as the verdict was being announced but said nothing.
Afterward, he shook hands with his lawyers and told them ‘great job’ before he was led back to the cell where he has been held since a judge found he had violated his bail conditions.
Attorney Michael Avenatti leaving court on October 8, 2019. He was convicted on
THE CHARGES AGAINST AVENATTI
The Nike case
Avenatti was charged last March with three counts; extortion, honest services fraud and transmission of interstate communications with intent to extort.
He tried to get Nike to pay him $25million and, in exchange, said he would not expose them for alleged payments to college basketball players – something that is banned.
Nike reported him to the authorities instead.
The Stormy Daniels Case
In the second case to be filed against him in New York, Avenatti is charged with identity theft and wire fraud.
He allegedly forged her signature to steal $300,000 in payments from her book.
He represented Daniels in her fight against Donald Trump and Michael Cohen during the 2016 presidential election when they gave her hush money to keep her allegations that she’d slept with Trump quiet.
If convicted, he faces 20 years in prison.
That case will go to trial in April.
The IRS and Justice Department Case
The most serious indictment was filed in California.
It charges Avenatti with 36 counts of tax fraud, among other crimes. If convicted, he faces 335 years behind bars in that case.
That will go to trial in May.
The Nike extortion trial is just one of three that Avenatti is currently the defendant in.
He has also been charged with 36 counts of fraud in a sweeping indictment by the IRS and the Justice Department in California. That case – which carries a maximum sentence of 335 years – has not yet begun.
In the third case, he is accused of stealing $300,000 from Stormy Daniels. He represented her in a lawsuit seeking to break a confidentiality agreement so she could speak about her alleged affair with Trump before he ran for president.
Avenatti became a cable news fixture in 2018 and 2019 as journalists courted him for information about Daniels and her claims of a tryst with Trump.
At his peak of notoriety, Avenatti used Twitter and TV appearances to relentlessly criticize Trump and even considered running for president himself.
His fall, however, was swift.
He was arrested as he was about to meet Nike lawyers last March to press his demands for millions of dollars to conduct an internal probe of the apparel maker.
Avenatti had approached Nike claiming to have proof that it had been paying players illegally and threatening to expose the company for it if they did not pay him up to $25million.
After the charges were revealed, Nike said it had been cooperating with an already-ongoing NCAA investigation into the issue of college basketball payments for more than a year.
‘Nike firmly believes in ethical and fair play, both on business and sports, and will continue to assist prosecutors,’ the company said.
At the time, Avenatti was drowning in personal debts of $10million, according to his indictment.
He had scheduled a press conference to discuss Nike’s alleged payments to the players when he was taken into custody.
Avenatti maintained he was taking the aggressive position at the urging of his client, Gary Franklin, who ran a youth basketball league in Los Angeles and was angry that Nike ended a decadelong sponsorship that provided $72,000 annually and free gear.
He had sought $1.5 million for Franklin as well.
In a separate case, Avenatti is accused of stealing $300,000 from ex-client Stormy Daniels. He represented her in a lawsuit seeking to break a confidentiality agreement so she could speak about her alleged affair with Trump before he ran for president
Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Sobelman is pictured in a court sketch pointing at Avenatti during his trial in New York
Franklin testified that two Nike executives forced him to pay money to the mother of an elite high school basketball player and to pass along payments to the handlers of other players while doctoring paperwork to hide the purpose of the funds.
Avenatti did not testify during his trial.
His lawyers, however, said he was following the wishes of Franklin and an entertainment executive who advised him to be aggressive to force Nike to fire corrupt executives and fix its culture.
Besides the extortion trial, Avenatti will face trial in New York in April on charges that he defrauded Daniels of book proceeds.
He will then go on trial in Los Angeles in May in the Justice Department and IRS case where he is accused of defrauding clients and others of millions of dollars.
He remains held without bail. Federal prosecutors in Los Angeles succeeded last month in getting him locked up after saying he violated his $300,000 bail by moving money around illegally after his arrest.
Avenatti was last seen out in public in Los Angeles on January 11. Federal prosecutors in Los Angeles then succeeded last month in getting him locked up for violating his bail conditions
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