Michael Avenatti, the attorney who represented porn film star Stormy Daniels in her legal fights with President Trump, was federally charged this week with extortion, in what one federal prosecutor said was an effort to shake down Nike for more than $20 million. Nike has responded aggressively to the alleged, attempted bribe and contacted federal authorities quickly.
Avenatti was also hit with additional federal charges including fraud and embezzlement in California. He was placed under arrest by federal authorities in New York and was set to make his first court appearance later today. Avenatti resides in Los Angeles and did not respond to media requests for comment. (Yahoo.com)
Federal prosecutors reported Avenatti and a co-conspirator yet unnamed met with attorneys for Nike in late March and told them they had a client, an ex-amateur athletic coach, who had strong evidence that Nike employees had given bribes to top players in high school to play for teams sponsored by Nike.
An ex-executive at Adidas, a Nike rival, was convicted this year in federal court in New York City of operating a related scheme. This was part of a large probe by federal prosecutors investigating corruption of the NCAA. The case, which is still in process, allegedly involves several major college basketball coaches.
Avenatti allegedly told Nike he would release damaging information to the public unless it paid the unnamed client $1.5 million and hired him to do a legal investigation for $15 to $25 million. Avenatti also said he would take $22.5 million for his silence. In one phone call, Avenatti threatened that he would take $10 billion off the net market worth of Nike….I’m not ******* around here.’
A Shake Down the Old Fashioned Way
The federal charges were revealed not long after Avenatti stated on Twitter that he would hold a press conference today to reveal a large high school and college basketball scandal that reached very high levels at Nike.
According to US Attorney Geoffrey Berman in Manhattan, Avenatti’s suit and tie does not hide the fact this was an old-time shakedown of a multi-billion dollar corporation. Nike responded in a public statement that it will never be extorted. It also alerted federal agents to the demands of the lawyer right away.
Also, federal prosecutors out of California unveiled other charges against Avenatti this week. They accused him of misuse of a $1.6 million settlement for a client to cover his own expenses, and also for expenses related to his coffee business.
Avenatti also was charged with fraud against a bank in Mississippi of at least $4 million in loans. He allegedly turned in false tax returns for 2011 to 2013 that artificially increased his income. Avenatti could receive as much as three decades in prison on the most serious charge in CA and 20 years for the major charge in New York.
Avenatti - Famous for Representing Stormy Daniels
Avenatti came to national prominence for legally representing Daniels, the porn star who Trump allegedly paid off to stay quiet just before the 2016 election about an affair. Trump has said he did not have an affair with the porn star; Daniel’s real name is Stephanie Clifford.
Daniels is no longer represented by the under-fire attorney, and said she is saddened but hardly surprised by the serious charges against him. Daniels told the media she decided last month to end Avenatti’s legal services after she found out he had dealt dishonestly with her.
Charles Harder, who was the lawyer for Trump in the Daniels case, told the media that the arrest of Avenatti was a great day for the legal system in the United States. (Foxnews.com)
Avenatti was one of Trump’s most vocal foes due to the Daniels scandal. He often appeared on TV and even talked about running for president. His federal arrest came a day after the US attorney general released a summary of Robert Mueller’s findings that cleared the president’s 2016 campaign of working with Russia to undermine Hillary Clinton in the election.
Before he began to represent Stormy Daniels in early 2018, he was almost unknown outside the legal field in California. But in a few months, he was known as an aggressive attorney with a brash media style and a tendency to Tweet often as Trump does.
Federal prosecutors denied any idea that the charges unveiled this week were affected by politics. Berman stressed his office never takes politics into account when it decides about making a federal case.
A Justice Department official said that the California investigation on the attorney had gone on for months, but the case regarding Nike in New York came out of nowhere and progressed very fast. The official said he could have been placed under arrest last week. He added that federal officials wanted the federal charges in both cases to be unsealed simultaneously to make sure the arrest went as smooth as possible.
Both cases against the attorney are being overseen by Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein. Justice Department employees at high levels say that Principal Associate AG Ed O’Callaghan was involved in coordinating the Avenatti arrest over this past weekend, while also playing a key role in Attorney General William Barr’s letter to the US Congress that summarized the findings of the Mueller investigation.
Trump’s Son Thrilled With Arrest News
Trump’s oldest son, Donald Trump Jr., reacted with pleasure on Twitter regarding the Avenatti charges. He coined a new version of the campaign slogan of his father, Make America Great Again - ‘Michael Avenatti Getting Arrested!’
If convicted on all charges, Avenatti could face many decades in federal prison. It has not been reported if a bail has been set or if he has posted it.
- Michael Avenatti Accused of Trying to Extort Nike for Up to $25 Million, Feds Say. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.foxnews.com/us/michael-avenatti-accused-of-trying-to-extort-nike-for-up-to-25m-feds-say
- Lawyer Michael Avenatti Charged in Federal Crimes. (2019). Retrieved from https://finance.yahoo.com/news/lawyer-michael-avenatti-charged-20-171535206.html