Prosecutors: Avenatti was $15M in debt during Nike extortion

Prosecutors: Avenatti was $15M in debt during Nike extortion

Lawyer Michael Avenatti was more than $15 million in debt when he tried to extort as much as $25 million from Nike, prosecutors alleged in court papers filed late Tuesday.

Prosecutors said they will demonstrate at trial that Avenatti owed “conservatively, in excess of $15 million" and that evidence will show that he had "extraordinary indebtedness, and thus the need and motive to quickly generate substantial sums of money at the time when he engaged in the charged conduct,” the The Associated Press reported Wednesday.

Avenatti is accused of threatening to hold a news conference to discuss allegations of improper payments to college basketball recruits if Nike did not pay him. Nike has denied any wrongdoing.

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Attorneys for Avenatti, in court filings Tuesday, argued that their client legally sought the money after Nike's lawyers said they were interested in having him conduct an internal probe.

The filings come as Avenatti faces a criminal trial next month in Manhattan.

Avenatti, who famously represented adult-film actress Stormy Daniels in a case against President TrumpDonald John TrumpFederal plan to contain Washington protests employs 7,600 personnel: report GOP Rep calls on primary opponent to condemn campaign surrogate's racist video Tennessee court rules all registered voters can obtain mail-in ballots due to COVID-19 MORE, pleaded not guilty last week to the extortion charges.

Avenatti has faced other criminal charges in recent months. He has been accused of stealing about $300,000 from Daniels, as well as wire and bank fraud.

He has denied wrongdoing in those cases and said in May he was facing charges only because he was a "threat" to Trump.