Celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti convicted in Nike extortion case

Clay Curtis
February 15, 2020

"In the end, Michael Avenatti wasn't a real attorney, he just played one on TV".

"I am not surprised his dishonesty has been revealed on a grand scale", she said, after Avenatti was found guilty on all counts for trying to extort up to $25 million from sports-apparel giant Nike.

A federal jury in NY reached the verdict after almost three days of deliberation.

The brash lawyer was all but unknown until two years ago when he began representing the adult film actress Stormy Daniels in lawsuits against US President Donald Trump and making hundreds of television appearances.

On March 25 past year, the lawyer tweeted that the next day he planned to hold "a press conference to disclose a major high school/college basketball scandal perpetrated by @Nike that we have uncovered".

Avenatti's lawyers argued their client had acted in good faith and did exactly what Franklin wanted in demanding a probe and threatening publicity that could expose Nike's alleged corruption, and harm its reputation and stock price.

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During the roughly three-week trial, Nike lawyers testified Avenatti threatened to hold a press conference accusing the company of illegally paying high school players.

Avenatti planned to hold a press conference divulging Nike's alleged payments to the basketball recruits, prosecutors said.

They had looked up firms that had "successfully sued Nike" and said it was time to "go after Nike". defense attorney Scott Srebnick said in closing arguments.

"Nike will not be extorted or hide information that is relevant to a government investigation", read the statement, obtained by KGW. The federal prosecutors were aided by Nike's lawyers, who recorded their conversations with Mr. Avenatti.

The California lawyer was charged in March after he met with Nike attorneys to discuss claims by his client, a youth basketball coach, that the company bribed top players to attend colleges with Nike-sponsored teams. In addition to the Nike charges, Manhattan federal prosecutors accused him of swindling Daniels out of almost $300,000 for a book deal.

Avenatti is also expected in a California court in May for allegedly attempting to defraud millions of dollars from his clients and lying to the Internal Revenue Service.

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