Michael Avenatti Attorney Michael Avenatti charged in $20 million Nike extortion rip-off: district attorneys

Michael Avenatti

(The March 25 story remedies the ages for Avenatti in the 3rd paragraph, Daniels in the 22 nd paragraph)

By Joseph Ax and Brendan Pierson

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Lawyer Michael Avenatti, who represented adult film star Rainy Daniels in her legal battles with U.S. President Donald Trump, was charged on Monday with what district attorneys said was an attempt to “shake down” Nike Inc for over $20 million.

Avenatti, who was also hit with separate embezzlement and fraud charges in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, was detained in New York.

A federal magistrate judge bought Avenatti, 48, released on $300,000 bond throughout a hearing in U.S. District Court in New York. A subdued Avenatti appeared in the courtroom using a dark gray match and sitting with federal public defenders.

“When due procedure takes place I will be completely exonerated and justice will prevail,” Avenatti stated outside the court following the hearing.

Prosecutors stated Avenatti and another legal representative, who was not called in court documents, satisfied with Nike’s attorneys on March 19 and informed them they had a customer, a former amateur coach, who had evidence Nike employees had paid off top high school gamers to play for Nike-sponsored college teams.

The other attorney, an unnamed co-conspirator, was recognized by The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, pointing out sources, as prominent Los Angeles attorney and CNN factor Mark Geragos.

Geragos did not respond to a request by Reuters for comment. A spokesperson for CNN said Geragos was no longer with the network.

According to the criminal problem, Avenatti told Nike he would go public unless it paid his client $1.5 million and worked with him and the other legal representative to conduct an internal investigation for between $15 million and $25 million.

Avenatti likewise offered to accept a $22.5 million payment for his silence, district attorneys stated.

Attorney Michael Avenatti, who represented adult movie star Stormy Daniels in her legal battles against U.S. President Donald Trump, exits federal court in New York, U.S., March 25, 2019. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

A former executive at Nike competing athletic shoe maker Adidas was recently convicted in federal court in Manhattan of taking part in a similar plan, part of a sweeping probe by prosecutors of corruption surrounding the National Collegiate Athletic Association. The case has captured several prominent basketball coaches.

In one call, Avenatti threatened, “I’ll go take ten billion dollars off your customer’s market cap … I’m not fucking around,” according to the grievance.

Geragos, who has represented stars such as Michael Jackson and Winona Ryder, is safeguarding the actor Jussie Smollett, who is charged with falsely reporting he was the victim of a racially motivated attack in Chicago.

It was not clear why Geragos has not been charged in the Nike case.

“OLD-FASHIONED SHAKE-DOWN”

The charges came shortly after Avenatti stated on Twitter he would hold a news conference on Tuesday to expose “a major high school/college basketball scandal” reaching “the highest levels of Nike.”

“A suit and tie does not mask the reality that, at its core, this was an old-fashioned shakedown,” Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, informed a news conference.

Nike said in a declaration it “will not be extorted” and informed private investigators to Avenatti’s demands instantly.

Federal prosecutors in California unveiled different charges versus Avenatti on Monday, implicating him of misusing a client’s $1.6 million settlement to pay for his own expenses as well as those for his coffee business.

He was likewise charged with defrauding a Mississippi bank of $4.1 million in loans by submitting incorrect tax returns for 2011 -2013 that inflated his earnings.

Avenatti deals with up to 30 years in jail on the most severe charge in California and up to 20 years for the top charge in New York.

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He acquired global prestige for representing Daniels, the pornography star whom Trump is implicated of paying off throughout the 2016 presidential campaign to keep peaceful about an declared affair. Trump has rejected having an affair with Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford.

Daniels, 40, who is no longer represented by Avenatti, stated she was “saddened but not stunned” by his arrest, adding she fired him after learning he had acted “dishonestly” with her.

Reporting by Joseph Ax and Brendan Pierson in New York; extra reporting by Daniel Trotta and Jonathan Stempel in New York, Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee, Nivedita Balu in Bengaluru and Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; modifying by Bill Tarrant, Cynthia Ostermanand Leslie Adler

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