Michael Avenatti Arrested for Trying to Extort Nike for Millions

March 25, 2019 Updated: March 25, 2019

Michael Avenatti, the former lawyer for Stormy Daniels, was charged with attempting to extort more than $20 million from Nike, it was reported.

Avenatti, 48, a frequent critic of President Donald Trump, was arrested on March 25 in Manhattan, CNN reported. He’ll appear in court on the same day.

Avenatti met in March 2019 with a Nike attorney, threatening to release damaging information about the firm if it didn’t make a payment worth several million to himself and another person, according to a criminal complaint.

Attorney Michael Avenatti speaks at a news conference
Attorney Michael Avenatti at a news conference in Chicago on Feb. 22, 2019. (Kiichiro Sato/AP)

“I’ll go take $10 billion off your client’s market cap…I’m not [expletive] around,” Avenatti said, the complaint said.

“And I’m not continuing to play games,” he continued. “You guys know enough now to know you’ve got a serious problem and it’s worth more in exposure to me to just blow the lid on this thing.”

Avenatti also faces charges of wire fraud and bank fraud. According to Fox News, federal authorities have alleged that he tried to embezzle money from a client to pay for his own expenses and for business ventures.

Attorney Michael Avenatti poses with Mareli Miniutti
Attorney Michael Avenatti poses with Mareli Miniutti at a party in New York in September 2018. (Marion Curtis/StarPix via AP)

Avenatti and a co-conspirator demanded to be paid a minimum of $15 million to $25 million and an additional $1.5 million for an Avenatti client to remain silent, the complaint said.

The court papers said the co-conspirator, who was not identified in court papers, is also an attorney licensed to practice in California. It said the co-conspirator, like Avenatti, represents celebrities and public figures.

The court papers said the client is a coach of an amateur athletic union men’s basketball program in California. The complaint said the AAU program coached by the Avenatti client was sponsored by Nike for $72,000 annually.

Avenatti, dubbed the “creepy porn lawyer” by Fox News and other outlets, sent a tweet earlier on March 25 that he would be doing a press conference about 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,” he wrote.

He became famous as the lawyer for Daniels, who made claims about President Trump. Both he and Daniels became the subject of cable news broadcasts and shows for months.

Daniels recently cut ties with Avenatti.

And on March 25, she released a statement, saying she isn’t surprised by the charges.

“Knowing what I know now about Michael Avenatti, I am saddened but not shocked by news reports that he has been criminally charged today,” Daniels tweeted. “I made the decision more than a month ago to terminate Michael’s services after discovering that he had dealt with me extremely dishonestly and there will be more announcements to come.”

Last year, Avenatti also considered running as a Democrat in the 2020 election, but he ultimately didn’t. More recently, he has been representing women who said that they were abused by singer R. Kelly.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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