How far Attorney Michael Avenatti, 48, has fallen in such a short time. Not so long ago, he appeared to be a potential presidential candidate as he appeared in the media representing porn star Stephanie Clifford AKA Stormy Daniels. Today, he has been arrested and is facing charges by federal prosecutors on allegations of attempting to extort some $20 million from the sports apparel company, Nike.
According to Bloomberg, he was charged today by federal prosecutors in New York with attempting “to extort millions of dollars out of Nike Inc. by threatening to release damaging information about the company, which did not meet his demands.”
Avenatti allegedly told Nike he would cancel a press conference if the company “paid an unidentified client $1.5 million, and hired him and another California lawyer to conduct an internal investigation for $15 million to $25 million.”
Michael Avenatti has been charged with trying to extort Nike, moments after tweeting he had information about an alleged basketball scandal. Read the full complaint here ➡️ https://t.co/IBeHjB52R2 pic.twitter.com/L5G1OI9ZFh
— Bloomberg (@business) March 25, 2019
Just minutes after Avenatti made the following Tweet, he was charged. Earlier on March 19, he met with Nike attorneys with a cooperating client.
“Tmrw at 11 am ET, we will be holding a press conference to disclose a major high school/college basketball scandal perpetrated by @Nike that we have uncovered. This criminal conduct reaches the highest levels of Nike and involves some of the biggest names in college basketball.”
Tmrw at 11 am ET, we will be holding a press conference to disclose a major high school/college basketball scandal perpetrated by @Nike that we have uncovered. This criminal conduct reaches the highest levels of Nike and involves some of the biggest names in college basketball.
— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) March 25, 2019
Minutes later, Steven Portnoy, a broadcaster covering the White House for CBS News Radio, confirmed the charges.
JUST IN: Federal prosecutors announce charges against @MichaelAvenatti, alleging he tried to extort Nike, threatening to release damaging about the company, if Nike didn't agree to pay millions to him and a client.
— Steven Portnoy (@stevenportnoy) March 25, 2019
In another Tweet, Portnoy says that Avenatti made a threat by phone to Nike attorneys. According to the complaint filed in federal court, Avenatti told Nike attorneys by phone last week if his demands were not met:
“I’ll go take ten billion dollars off your client’s market cap … I’m not f*cking around.”
Jason Leopold from BuzzFeed revealed more of the conversation, alleging Avenatti said:
“Have you ‘ever held the balls of the client in your hand where you could take five to six billion dollars market cap off of them?'”
FBI recorded Michael Avenatti saying to Nike attorney: have you "ever held the balls of the client in your hand where you could take five to six billion dollars market cap off of them" pic.twitter.com/sUFyV5truP
— Jason Leopold (@JasonLeopold) March 25, 2019
Yahoo sports columnist, Dan Wetzel, revealed that the information Avenatti allegedly tried to extort Nike with involved bad publicity about Nike employees.
Feds allege Michael Avenatti tried to extort Nike with bad publicity involving “allegations of misconduct involving Nike employees” in middle of March Madness. pic.twitter.com/X4ToNjdgq8
— Dan Wetzel (@DanWetzel) March 25, 2019
Following the Tweet from Avenatti, Nike’s stock saw a downturn of 0.3 percent. It’s now rebounding after the arrest. (see video below)
This bizarre story is just one of the cases against the attorney. He also faces wire fraud and bank fraud charges. One of the charges is he allegedly “defrauded a bank in Mississippi by submitting to the lender false tax returns in order to obtain three loans totaling $4.1 million for his law firm and coffee business in 2014.”
According to the Twitter account for the US Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, he faces a separate federal case filed in New York and will face investigation by the IRS.
According to the Justice.gov website:
“Attorney Michael Avenatti was arrested today pursuant to a criminal complaint alleging he embezzled a client’s money in order to pay his own expenses and debts — as well as those of his coffee business and law firm — and also defrauded a bank by using phony tax returns to obtain millions of dollars in loans.”
Lawyer Michael Avenatti Arrested on Federal Bank Fraud and Wire Fraud Charges https://t.co/Iv1pwFWJ6I
— US Attorney L.A. (@USAO_LosAngeles) March 25, 2019
If he is found guilty on these charges, Avenatti could face a statutory maximum sentence of 50 years in federal prison.
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Featured image: Screenshot via YouTube