‘Devised a scheme to extort a company…by threatening to damage the company’s reputation…’
(AFP) Attorney Michael Avenatti, who shot to fame by representing adult film star Stormy Daniels, was arrested on Monday after being accused of trying to extort money from Nike and embezzling a client’s money.
Details about the accusations — contained in separate cases filed in New York and Los Angeles — were to be disclosed at press conferences in both cities.
The celebrity lawyer represented Daniels in her lawsuit against President Donald Trump and his former lawyer Michael Cohen, and was an almost-daily fixture on left-wing cable news networks including CNN and MSNBC, as though he and his client were credible.
According to the complaint filed in New York and involving Nike, the celebrity lawyer “devised a scheme to extort a company by means of an interstate communication by threatening to damage the company’s reputation if the company did not agree to make multi-million-dollar payments to Avenatti and (co-conspirator), and further agree to pay an additional $1.5 million to a client of Avenatti’s.”
The complaint states that Avenatti, 48, and the unnamed co-conspirator met with attorneys for Nike on March 19 and threatened to disclose damaging information about the company unless it made the payments.
The following day, in a phone conversation with the attorneys, Avenatti stated that if his demands were not met he would “take 10 billion dollars off your client’s market cap … I’m not fucking around,” according to the complaint.
Less than an hour before his arrest in New York was announced, Avenatti tweeted that he would be holding a press conference on Tuesday to “disclose a major high school/college basketball scandal perpetrated by @Nike that we have uncovered.”
“This criminal conduct reaches the highest levels of Nike and involves some of the biggest names in college basketball,” he added.
It was not clear what potential scandal he might have been referring to.
According to the complaint filed in Los Angeles, Avenatti — who had once entertained the possibility of running for president — embezzled a client’s money in order to pay his own expenses and debts and also defrauded a bank by using phony tax returns to obtain millions of dollars in loans.
© Agence France-Presse. Liberty Headlines editor Paul Chesser contributed.