Celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti has been convicted in the Nike extortion case by a Manhattan federal jury. Avenatti who became popular after representing adult film star Stormy Daniels could face up to 42 years of jail term in multiple cases of fraud and defraud. He is also termed as Trump tormentor.
Avenatti has been found guilty of transmitting interstate communications with intent to extort, attempted extortion and honest services wire fraud. His sentencing is scheduled on June 17. In the Nike extortion case, after conducting trials for two weeks, the jury heard the phone calls made by Avenatti demanding millions of dollars from Nike while threatening the company to make information that could damage Nike in public.
Avenatti demanded $1.5 million from Nike
Avenatti had demanded Nike to pay $1.5 million to his client Gary Franklin. Nike had stopped sponsoring Franklin who was running a youth basketball league in Los Angeles. Apart from this, Avenatti's phone calls revealed that he also demanded $22 million as his payment from Nike.
Avenatti was found guilty in the interstate communication case and US Attorney for the Southern District Geoffrey Berman said in a statement that irrespective of trying to hide behind legal terms, tie and suit, the jury saw defendants scheme of old fashioned shakedown. Prosecutors also stated that Avenatti had a personal debt of $11 million.
Avenatti duped adult film star Stormy Daniels
His former client Stormy Daniels also released a statement on this matter. Avenatti will face the Manhattan federal court in April on charges of defrauding Daniels. Daniels accused Avenatti of stealing $300,000 from her book deal.
In an Instagram post she stated: "Sadly, it appears what Michael Avenatti did to me was just the tip of an iceberg of deceit. I am not surprised his dishonesty has been revealed on a grand scale."
She further wrote: "His arrogant, fraudulent and overly aggressive behaviour became so pervasive that the jury found his true character. Although clearly a just result, I do feel sad for his children and foolish for believing his lies for so long."
Avenatti's connection with US President Donald Trump
Avenatti had represented porn actress Stormy Daniels in a case, where she accused Donald Trump of giving her money and forcing her to sign a non-disclosure document. The case came up when Trump was running for the president's post in 2016. It was reported that Daniels was paid $130,000 by Trump's then-personal lawyer Michael Cohen to make Daniels keep quiet about Trump having sex with her.
Both Trump and Cohen have denied the charges. But when Daniels filed a case against Trump in 2018, Cohen said that he had paid Daniels $130,000 from his own personal funds and it had nothing to do with Trump. Avenatti's attorney Srebnick has said that Avenatti is Avenatti, he is a strong guy and obviously he is disappointed, but he is a fighter.
Apart from these cases, Avenatti will also face trial in Los Angeles in May on charges of defrauding multiple clients. He is currently in federal custody at the troubled Metropolitan Correctional Center.