Attorney Michael Avenatti has been arrested on federal charges of wire fraud and extortion, after being charged by prosecutors in two states for separate cases on Monday.
The U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York announced charges against the lawyer for allegedly trying to extort tens of millions of dollars out of Nike, Inc., by threatening to release damaging information about the firm, Bloomberg reported.
According to CNBC, the charges in the Nike case were announced less than an hour after Avenatti tweeted that he would be holding a news conference to expose “criminal conduct [that] reaches the highest levels of Nike and involves some of the biggest names in college basketball.”
Tmrw at 11 am ET, we will be holding a press conference to disclose a major high school/college basketball scandal perpetrated by @Nike that we have uncovered. This criminal conduct reaches the highest levels of Nike and involves some of the biggest names in college basketball.
— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) March 25, 2019
Avenatti is accused of telling Nike last week that he would not hold the news conference if the company would pay an unidentified client $1.5 million, and hire him along with another lawyer to conduct an internal investigation. According to reports, Avenatti was seeking anywhere from $15 million to $25 million in the scheme.
In a phone call with attorneys for Nike, Avenatti allegedly threatened he could “go take $10 billion off your client’s market cap…I’m not f***ing around.”
On the other side of the country, the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles accused Avenatti of embezzling funds from a client, and defrauding a bank with phony tax returns, CBS News reported. Avenatti is facing charges of bank and wire fraud in that case.
Avenatti became a national figure for representing adult film star Stormy Daniels — whose real name is Stephanie Clifford — who alleges she had an affair with President Donald Trump and was paid to keep quiet about it.
Last week, Daniels announced she had decided “more than a month ago to terminate [Avenatti’s] services after discovering that he had dealt with me extremely dishonestly.”
My statement regarding my former attorney Mr. Avenatti.. pic.twitter.com/9aKYCPNN6y
— Stormy Daniels (@StormyDaniels) March 25, 2019