Michael Avenatti Charged with Extortion, Allegedly Demanded Millions from Nike

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMarch 25, 2019

Attorney Michael Avenatti, who is representing an alleged R. Kelly victim, speaks to reporters at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse in Chicago after the R&B singer entered a not guilty plea to all 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, Monday morning, Feb. 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Teresa Crawford)
Teresa Crawford/Associated Press

Michael Avenatti, Stormy Daniels' former lawyer, has been charged with extortion by federal prosecutors after allegedly demanding millions from Nike, according to Devlin Barrett of the Washington Post.

Per that report:

"Authorities charge Avenatti threatened to hold a press conference on the eve of the NCAA basketball tournament to reveal damaging allegations against the firm unless it paid his client $1.5 million and agreed to hire Avenatti and another lawyer for $15 to $25 million to conduct an 'internal investigation' into the allegations."

Avenatti tweeted Monday he had uncovered "a major high school/college basketball scandal" involving Nike: 

Michael Avenatti @MichaelAvenatti

Tmrw at 11 am ET, we will be holding a press conference 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.

According to the prosecutor's charging document, Avenatti also proposed "a total payment of $22.5 million from Nike to resolve any claims [the client] might have and additionally to buy Avenatti's silence" if the company did not hire him.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles filed separate charges against Avenatti "accusing him of embezzling a client's money to cover his own debts, as well as using phony tax returns to obtain millions of dollars in loans from a bank," per Reuters.

According to that report, Avenatti allegedly told Nike lawyers that if his requests weren't met, "I'll go take 10 billion dollars off your client's market cap. ... I'm not f--king around."

Avenatti is a high-profile lawyer who most famously represented Daniels in her legal showdown with President Donald Trump.