Now that the trial of “creepy porn lawyer” Michael Avenatti is underway, New York city tabloids like the New York Post are bringing us all of the juiciest updates from the prosecution’s case.
The first bombshell dropped on Tuesday: As it turns out, Avenatti mislead the clients who brought him the ‘dirt’ on Nike that Avenatti allegedly used to try and extort the sportswear giant into a $25 million payoff (he demanded that Nike hire him to conduct an internal investigation).
Instead of sharing his plans with Cal Supreme Gary Franklin, the youth basketball coach who first tipped off the lawyer about Nike’s illegal ‘sponsorships’ of college basketball recruits, Avenatti kept his clients in “total darkness” as he tried to shake down Nike.
Jeff Auerbach, a witness in the Avenatti trial who allegedly introduced Franklin to Avenatti, said Avenatti deliberately misled them.
“I trusted that [Avenatti] was going to go to Nike and try and achieve Gary’s goals,” Jeff Auerbach told jurors.
But when they met up to discuss Avenatti’s meetings with Nike’s lawyers, Avenatti would allegedly make vague statements like saying things “went great” while failing to mention his quest for a rich payday, or the involvement of celebrity lawyer Mark Geragos, who was never charged but was cited anonymously in the original indictment.
Auerbach told the jury that he and Franklin decided to bring the Nike dirt to Avenatti because they thought he would be “diplomatic” about it.
Their motivation was simple: Thanks to Nike’s intrusions, Franklin was fighting to regain control of his team. But instead of helping them, the pair were allegedly met with “utter shock and horror” as Avenatti repeatedly violated their trust in a string of events leading up to his arrest.
“It would be detrimental, damaging and totally averse to meeting Gary’s objectives,” Auerbach replied when asked by prosecutors whether he and Franklin genuinely wanted to expose Nike’s conduct. “We were trying to forge a new future.”
Nike lawyer Scott Wilson previously testified that Avenatti kept threatening that he had reporters on “speed dial”, and wouldn’t hesitate to leak the story to the press if Nike didn’t cave to his demands.
“I’ll take $10 billion off your client’s market cap,” Avenatti infamously warned according to court filings. “This is gonna be a major f–king scandal.”
Avenatti claims he was simply advocating for Franklin, which prosecutors say can’t possibly be true since he left Franklin out of the loop.
The disgraced lawyer is also facing charges in California related to deceiving clients, though his alleged deceptions in that case are even more egregious: He allegedly forged documents to help conceal from a client that some settlement money owed to the client had finally come in. Instead of handing it over, Avenatti used the money to try and save a coffee shop that he owned.