Michael Avenatti indicted for Nike extortion
today May 23, 2019
Michael Avenatti’s legal troubles escalated on Wednesday as federal prosecutors announced new indictments accusing the lawyer and prominent critic of U.S. President Donald Trump of ripping off porn star Stormy Daniels and extorting Nike Inc.
Prosecutors in Manhattan accused Avenatti, 48, of stealing about $300,000 from Daniels, the client who made him famous, to fund an extravagant lifestyle including a Ferrari automobile, after helping her secure a book contract.
The Nike indictment concerns charges announced in March that Avenatti tried to extort more than $20 million from the athletic wear company by threatening to expose what he called its improper payments to recruits for college basketball teams it sponsored.
Avenatti also faces dozens of charges in southern California, where prosecutors on April 11 accused him of stealing millions of dollars from clients to pay for personal and business expenses, and lying to the Internal Revenue Service and a Mississippi bank about his finances.
If convicted on all charges, Avenatti could face more than 400 years in prison, but would likely face a lesser punishment.
Nike has denied wrongdoing, and assisted prosecutors prior to Avenatti’s arrest.
Avenatti has maintained his innocence and said the earlier prosecutions were to punish him for representing Daniels and criticizing Trump.
Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, received hush money to keep quiet about an affair she claimed to have had with Trump in 2006. The president has denied having had sex with Daniels.
“I look forward to a jury hearing all of the evidence and passing judgment on my conduct,” Avenatti wrote on Twitter after the indictments were announced.
“At no time was any money misappropriated or mishandled. I will be fully exonerated once the relevant emails, contracts, text messages, and documents are presented.”
He later said in an email that Daniels had received “millions of dollars worth of legal services.”
Lawyers for Avenatti did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Daniels could not immediately be reached.
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