High profile attorney Michael Avenatti, who allegedly extorted footwear company Nike for up to US$25 million, was found guilty on February 14 on all three charges filed against him.
Avenatti was found guilty of threatening to make public that Nike had been illicitly paying amateur basketball players. He was also found guilty of betraying his client, Gary Franklin, a youth basketball coach who had initially made the allegations against Nike, by advocating for money for himself and not for his client.
Avenatti is alleged to have demanded that the sportswear giant pay US$1.5 million to Franklin as well as pay an additional US$12 million in hush money to Avenatti himself. Lastly, Avenatti was found guilty of transmission of interstate communications with intent to extort, attempted extortion and honest services wire fraud.
Avenatti was arrested back in March 2019, just 15 minutes after tweeting that he would be organizing a press conference to “disclose a major high school/college basketball scandal perpetrated by @Nike.”
Sentencing for the case is set for June 2020.
According to CNN, Avenatti’s defense team is expected to appeal the court’s verdict. “Of course there will be an appeal,” said Scott Srebnick, Avenatti’s lead defense attorney.
Avenatti also accused of fraud and stealing Stormy Daniels’ book advance
Avenatti is facing two more charges for allegedly stealing the book advance of his former client, Stormy Daniels. Daniels claims that Avenatti stole US$300,000 from her and forged her signature.
“Sadly, it appears what Michael Avenatti did to me was just the tip of an iceberg of deceit,” Daniels posted on Instagram after the verdict came down on the Nike case.
Avenatti is also facing charges of committing fraud in California. He has been held in a correctional facility in the state for allegedly violating the terms of his bail on that charge.
Who is Michael Avenatti?
Avenatti gained the public spotlight when he represented adult film actress Stormy Daniels in her lawsuit against US President Donald Trump who, she’d alleged, had forced her to sign a nondisclosure agreement after an affair the two had in 2006. Avenatti claimed that the “hush agreement” Daniels had signed was invalid because Trump had never personally signed it.
Avenatti has regularly made various television appearances and has gained a huge following as a self-proclaimed “fighter for good”