BREAKING: Michael Avenatti Found Guilty of Trying to Extort Nike
On Friday, “creepy porn lawyer” Michael Avenatti was found guilty on all counts for extorting Nike for up to $25 million.
According to prosecutors, Avenatti threatened Nike by saying he was going to accuse Nike of paying amateur basketball players unless the athletic clothing giant paid him million of dollars.
Check out what CNN reported:
The government said Avenatti also betrayed his client, a youth basketball coach who made the allegations, by advocating for money for himself instead of the client.
Avenatti was charged with transmission of interstate communications with intent to extort, attempted extortion and honest services wire fraud.
He still faces two additional trials for allegedly stealing Stormy Daniels’ book advance and committing fraud in California. He is being held in jail for allegedly violating the terms of his bail in the California case.
Last week, a youth basketball coach named Gary Franklin who was previously represented by Avenatti, testified that Nike bullied him to pay high school players and their families. Nike ended up canceling their sponsorship with Franklin in 2018.
According to Franklin, he wanted Avenatti to convince Nike to renew the Nike sponsorship for his team.
Franklin said he wanted Avenatti to get Nike to renew his team’s sponsorship and fire two Nike executives.
Avenatti was in “crushing debt” at the time and wanted to use Franklin’s case to make money, prosecutors said. The high-powered attorney saw Franklin as a “meal ticket,” they argued.
Nike lawyers who took the stand during the trial said Avenatti told them he would hold a press conference claiming the company illegally paid players. In exchange for not going public, Avenatti told the lawyers in one meeting Nike would have to pay Franklin $1.5 million for any claims he had and immediately pay Avenatti and another attorney $12 million, and guarantee $15 to $25 million in payments for an internal investigation, prosecutors said.
Benjamin Homes, an associate attorney for Nike’s outside law firm who took notes during several of the meetings with Avenatti, testified that it “evolved into really a shakedown.”
Franklin testified he was shocked to find out Avenatti was planning a press conference.
Avenatti’s lawyers claim that he is innocent because he was acting on behalf of his client.
Check out what else CNN had to say:
Avenatti’s attorneys have denied he committed any criminal acts because he was acting on behalf of his client who could legally make demands if they related to his claim. They argued Franklin and his friend, Jeffrey Auerbach, have changed their stories since Avenatti was arrested.
Citing previous testimony and text messages between Auerbach and Franklin, defense attorneys said the two men were after “justice” and hired “Avenatti to be Avenatti” to get it. They had looked up firms that had “successfully sued Nike” and said it was time to “go after Nike,” defense attorney Scott Srebnick said in closing arguments.
Auerbach also researched a jury verdict Avenatti won that totaled more than $400 million, and Auerbach and Franklin allegedly told Avenatti “do it your way” after hiring him, Srebnick said.
Franklin said he wanted to root out corruption, and Avenatti was on a mission, defense attorneys argued.
“The only way to root out corruption, the only way to dismiss employees for corruption is an internal investigation,” Howard Srebnick, another defense attorney, said. “He was on a mission for his client. He was on a mission to achieve the goals of his client, and again he would be paid along the way.”