Michael Avenatti convicted of trying to extort Nike
Michael Avenatti, the lawyer who gained notoriety representing adult film actress Stormy Daniels in her fight with Donald Trump, was convicted on charges that he attempted to extort as much as $25m from Nike.
A jury in a US federal court in Manhattan found Mr Avenatti guilty on all three charges he faced. He faces a maximum of 20 years in prison.
“Today a unanimous jury found Michael Avenatti guilty of misusing his client’s information in an effort to extort tens of millions of dollars from the athletic apparel company Nike,” Geoffrey Berman, the US attorney for Manhattan, said in a statement. “While the defendant may have tried to hide behind legal terms and a suit and tie, the jury clearly saw the defendant’s scheme for what it was – an old fashioned shakedown.”
Prosecutors accused Mr Avenatti last year of hatching the multimillion-dollar extortion plot against the Nike, saying he had threatened to release damaging information about payments the sportswear company allegedly made to high school basketball players. He was arrested in March just minutes after tweeting that he had scheduled a press conference.
Mr Avenatti had previously represented Ms Daniels in two lawsuits against Mr Trump, with whom she claimed to have had an extramarital affair. Ms Daniels has since broken ties with Mr Avenatti.
He briefly flirted with a run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, before becoming embroiled in legal troubles.
A federal grand jury in California has indicted Mr Avenatti on three dozen criminal charges related to allegations that he stole millions of dollars from clients. In New York, he faces charges of wire fraud and identity theft in a case related to an accusation that he stole $300,000 from Ms Daniels. He has pled not guilty in both cases.