Attorney Michael Avenatti has just been arrested under the suspicion of committing both wire fraud and extortion. The suspect became a well-known public figure after he decided to represent Stormy Daniels in a very public lawsuit against current President Trump.
Now, Avenatti is accused of attempting to extort Nike for a whopping $20 million. He was allegedly threatening the company with the release of negative information unless they paid up. In an unrelated situation, Avenatti is also accused of embezzling funds from a specific client. His dealings made federal prosecutors believe that he’s been defrauding banks with fraudulent tax returns.
Avenatti wasn’t held in jail long. He was released on March 25th after agreeing to a $300,000 personal recognizance bond and giving up his passport. As another term of his release, he’ll be forced to report any financial transaction that exceeds $5,000 until he’s seen back in court in April.
According to the criminal complaint, Avenatti and another attorney, Mark Geragos, reportedly met with Nike’s lawyers on March 19th. Avenatti reported that he went to the meeting while representing a client who was a coach at the amateur athletic union. The coach’s contract had not been renewed, and that was the topic of discussion for the meeting. Avenatti’s client is adamant that he has proof that Nike was funneling illegal payments to some basketball prospects and their families.
It’s being alleged that Avenatti threatened to hold a press conference to expose Nike and their immoral dealings. This wouldn’t be such a big issue if the attorney had not also offered to put off the press conference in exchange for $1.5 million. Immediately following the meeting, the attorneys representing Nike immediately reported the extortion attempt to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The following day, the two Nike attorneys called Avenatti while law enforcement recorded the interaction. The suspect reportedly confirmed his demands for money, so he was promptly arrested on March 25th.