29 March 2019
Attorney Michael Avenatti, came to prominence after he represented adult film star Stormy Daniels in her legal battles with US President Donald Trump. Daniels is suing the president to get out of a non-disclosure agreement she signed before the 2016 election. The non-disclosure agreement related to an affair she said he had with Mr Trump in 2006. Mr Avenatti (in picture) emerged as a fierce critic of Donald Trump and often criticised him on TV news and talk shows,
Avenatti was charged on Monday with what prosecutors said was an attempt to “shake down” Nike for more than US$20 million.
Mr Avenatti was released on $300,000 bail on condition that he surrender his US and Italian passports. He did not enter a plea.
Mr Avenatti met a lawyer for Nike earlier this month. During their meeting, he allegedly threatened to release damaging information about the company unless it paid him and another, unnamed co-conspirator between $15m and $25m. He also demanded $1.5m for an individual he claimed to represent. Attorney Mark Geragos is the unnamed co-conspirator referred to in the New York criminal complaint against Avenatti, a source familiar confirmed to CNN.
Nike immediately reported the matter to federal prosecutors and said that it would not hide information that is relevant to a government investigation. CNN reported.
Federal prosecutors in California charged Avenatti in a separate case involving wire and bank fraud alleging that he “embezzled a client’s money in order to pay his own expenses and debts — as well as those of his coffee business and law firm — and also defrauded a bank by using phony tax returns to obtain millions of dollars in loans”. Prosecutors said that he negotiated a $1.6m settlement for a client, but only gave them a “bogus” agreement with a false payment date. He allegedly then collected the settlement in secret and “advanced” $130,000 to his client, using the rest to support his “lavish lifestyle”.
Daniels said she decided to terminate Avenatti services after discovering that he acted extremely dishonest in dealing with her. She said that there will be more announcements. BBC reported.