Michael Avenatti, the former attorney for adult-film star Stormy Daniels, has been charged with bank fraud and extortion, federal prosecutors in California and New York announced on Monday.
Avenatti was arrested the same day in New York, according to multiple reports.
The frequent critic of President TrumpDonald TrumpFormer New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver dead at 77 Biden, Democrats losing ground with independent and suburban voters: poll Bipartisan Senate group discusses changes to election law MORE had earlier announced a press conference for Tuesday “to disclose a major high school/college basketball scandal perpetrated by Nike” on Twitter.
Prosecutors in the two states had leveled separate charges against Avenatti. The New York charges relate to allegations Avenatti had threatened to harm the Nike using his public profile unless the apparel company paid him $10 million.
“A few million dollars doesn’t move the needle for me. I’m just being really frank with you,” charging documents from the Southern District of New York quote Avenatti as saying. “So if that’s what, if that’s what’s being contemplated, then let’s just say it was good to meet you, and we’re done. And I’ll proceed with my press conference tomorrow.”
In Los Angeles, prosecutors alleged Avenatti had embezzled a client's money to pay for his own debts and expenses, as well as for costs from his coffee business and law firm.
“A lawyer has a basic duty not to steal from his client,” said U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna in the California case. “Mr. Avenatti is facing serious criminal charges alleging he misappropriated client trust funds for his personal use and he defrauded a bank by submitting phony tax returns in order to obtain millions of dollars in loans.”
The Central District of California said Avenatti also defrauded a Mississippi bank by submitting false tax returns to obtain $4.1 million in loans for his law firm and coffee business in 2014. He is also alleged to have submitted a fictitious partnership tax return for his law firm as part of the loan applications.