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Michael Avenatti sentenced to 2.5 years for attempting to extort Nike

2 years 11 months 1 week ago Friday, July 09 2021 Jul 9, 2021 July 09, 2021 6:01 AM July 09, 2021 in News
Source: BBC News
Michael Avenatti

Disgraced attorney Michael Avenatti, best known for representing adult film actress Stormy Daniels, has been sentenced to 30 months in prison for attempting to extort up to $25m from Nike, BBC News reports.

An attorney who frequently worked with celebrities, participated in dozens of sports car races, and even said he might run for president at one point is now embroiled in a series of serious legal battles.

According to the BBC, on Thursday, a New York judge said Avenatti had become "drunk" on power.

Federal prosecutors say Avenatti blackmailed one of Nike's attorneys in March 2019, threatening to release damaging information about the company unless it paid him between $15m and $25m.

The damaging information allegedly involved one of Avenatti's clients who ran a youth basketball league in Los Angeles. 

Court documents say Avenatti threatened to say Nike had made illegal payments to young players in the city.

As Avenatti appeared before Judge Paul Gardephe for his sentencing in a Manhattan courtroom on Thursday, he appeared contrite.

The father of three held back tears as he admitted that he had "lost his way" and betrayed not only his loved ones, but his own values and the legal profession.

"There is no doubt that I deserve to pay, have paid, and will pay a further price for what I have done," he said.

This wasn't Avenatti's first painful courtroom experience. 

In February of last year, a jury found Avenatti guilty of extortion, transmission of interstate communications with intent to extort, and wire fraud.

Now, nearly a year later, Avenatti will return to court for a separate trial next week. He faces a series of charges in California involving allegations that he defrauded clients out of millions.

After this trial comes yet another.

In 2022, Avenatti will return to a Manhattan federal court for allegedly stealing $300,000 from one of his most famous clients, Daniels.

Avenatti maintains his innocence in all of the charges made against him. 

The 50-year-old California native gained prominence by handling a number of high-profile cases beginning in 2007, and eventually became a well-known figure when he filed a lawsuit against Donald Trump on behalf of Daniels in 2018. 

The case did not end favorably for Daniels or Avenatti; a federal judge dismissed the defamation lawsuit and ordered Daniels to pay Trump's legal fees. 

Though Avenatti said he would appeal this decision, Daniels later claimed the attorney initiated the suit against her wishes.

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