Avenatti arrested in Nike extortion scheme
New York police arrested attorney Michael Avenatti on Monday on charges of extortion and fraud. Avenatti is best known for representing Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels, who received a $130,000 payment to keep quiet about an alleged extra-marital affair she had with Donald Trump in 2006. Federal prosecutors accused Avenatti of trying to extort $25 million from athletic shoe and apparel manufacturer Nike. U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said Avenatti threatened to expose damaging information about Nike employee misconduct if the company did not pay him. “When lawyers use their law licenses as weapons, as a guise to extort payments for themselves, they are no longer acting as attorneys. They are acting as criminals,” Berman said.
Prosecutors revealed the charges against Avenatti about 45 minutes after he announced on Twitter he would hold a news conference Tuesday to “disclose a major high school/college basketball scandal by @Nike that we have uncovered.”
Avenatti also stands accused of embezzling a client’s money to pay his own expenses and other charges. His arrest stems from separate cases in New York and California. He was released on $300,000 bond Monday. Outside the courthouse, he said he expects to be “fully exonerated.”
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