Celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti was found guilty Friday on three charges related to his attempted extortion of sports apparel company Nike.
Avenatti, who became famous for representing Stormy Daniels in her battle against President Trump, had accused Nike of trying to corrupt college basketball and demanded the company pay him up to $25 million to conduct an investigation. Otherwise, he would expose “evidence” that Nike had bribed high school players and their families.
During the trial, it was revealed that Avenatti faced nearly $11 million in debt when he approached Nike.
“I’m not fucking around with this, and I’m not continuing to play games. And I don’t – you know, this isn’t complicated,” Avenatti said to Nike representative shortly before his arrest. “It’s worth more in exposure to me to just blow the lid on this thing. A few million dollars doesn’t move the needle for me. I’m just being really frank with you…I’ll go take $10 billion off your client’s market cap.”
Avenatti was found guilty of extortion, transmission of interstate communications with intent to extort, and wire fraud. He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years, but will likely get off with far less than that. He will almost certainly be disbarred.
“While the defendant may have tried to hide behind legal terms and a suit and tie, the jury clearly saw the defendant’s scheme for what it was – an old fashioned shakedown,” said Manhattan US Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman.
In the meantime, Avenatti faces two more federal criminal cases related to accusations that he stole millions of dollars from clients, including Stormy Daniels. He is also charged with tax fraud, wire fraud, perjury, bank fraud, and aggravated identity theft.
“Sadly, it appears what Michale Avenatti did to me was just the tip of the iceberg of deceit. I am not surprised his dishonesty has been revealed on a grand scale,” said Daniels, describing Avenatti’s behavior as “arrogant, fraudulent, and overly aggressive.”
This is the guy who attacked Trump, attacked Kavanaugh, and once thought he would run for president. Avenatti is getting exactly what he deserves.