Michael Avenatti found guilty of trying to extort millions from Nike


Prosecutors said the California attorney and longtime nemesis of President Trump tried to shake down Nike by demanding money to stay silent about a purported illegal branding deal scheme.

The verdict was returned Friday by a federal jury in Manhattan following a three-week trial in which prosecutors said Avenatti threatened to use his media access to hurt Nike's reputation and stock price unless the company paid him up to $25 million.

Avenatti also wanted $1.5 million paid to Gary Franklin, a youth basketball coach who claims Nike executives forced him to make illegal payments to top high school basketball players and their families.

Besides the extortion trial, Avenatti also faces an April trial in NY on charges that he defrauded Daniels of book proceeds and a May trial in Los Angeles on charges that he defrauded clients and others of millions of dollars.

Avenatti claimed the case was political payback for his clash with Trump, though a judge restricted him from advancing that theory with jurors. The high-powered attorney saw Franklin as a "meal ticket", they argued. All of Avenatti's claims were proven to be fabricated.

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The case grew out of a series of meetings in March 2019 between Mr. Avenatti, Los Angeles attorney Mark Geragos and Nike representatives, including Nike's outside counsel from law firm Boies Schiller Flexner LLP.

The celebrity lawyer, who rose to fame representing adult film star Stormy Daniels in a suit against President Donald Trump, faced three counts related to what prosecutors said was on extortion attempt: intent to extort; violation of the Hobbs Act, which criminalizes extortion; and honest service wire fraud.

Franklin testified he did not want a probe or press conference, preferring a quiet settlement.

Avenatti's legal problems may only grow. Avenatti alleged that Justice Kavanaugh engaged in "gang rape".

"That is what extortion sounds like", Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew D. Podolsky said in closing arguments Wednesday. In addition to the Nike charges, Manhattan federal prosecutors accused him of swindling Daniels out of almost $300,000 for a book deal.