Avenatti found guilty in Nike extortion trial
Attorney Michael Avenatti was reportedly found guilty Friday on charges that he tried to extort footwear and clothing giant Nike for millions of dollars.
The ruling against Avenatti, who gained national fame representing adult-film actress Stormy Daniels in her case against President Trump, was handed down in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan after he pleaded not guilty to all three related charges in December.
Prosecutors said Avenatti threatened to hold a news conference to discuss Nike’s alleged improper payments to college basketball recruits if it did not pay him up to $25 million. The athletic apparel company has denied any wrongdoing.
Avenatti allegedly tried to extort Nike in several meetings and phone calls last March after obtaining information about the company from amateur basketball coach Gary Franklin, who supposedly told him that Nike executives made illegal payments to the families of high school basketball stars on his team.
Prosecutors say Avenatti, who had developed a wide social media presence over his representation of Daniels and hints that he could run for president, threatened to disseminate the information Franklin gave him unless he was paid.
Avenatti’s attorney said their client was only seeking to defend Franklin, who enlisted him after Nike decided not to renew its $72,000 annual sponsorship of Franklin’s basketball program.
Avenatti is still facing trial in two other cases for allegedly defrauding his legal clients.