the law

Disgraced Lawyer Michael Avenatti Found Guilty in Nike Extortion Trial

Attorney Michael Avenatti. Photo: Kamil Krzaczynski/AFP via Getty Images

Michael Avenatti, the failed presidential candidate and lawyer who represented adult-film star Stormy Daniels in her suit against President Trump, was found guilty by a federal jury in New York on Friday of all three counts he faced over an attempt to extort Nike. The disgraced attorney could now spend a maximum of 20 years in prison, and his epic downfall hasn’t ended either, since additional trials await for other alleged crimes.

Last March, federal prosecutors alleged that while Avenatti was representing a youth basketball coach, he and an associate threatened to publicly accuse Nike of illegally paying amateur basketball players if the company didn’t hand over millions of dollars. Avenatti was arrested in March after the FBI recorded him threatening Nike representatives.

“I’m not fucking around with this, and I’m not continuing to play games,” Avenatti said on the call. “You guys know enough now to know you’ve got a serious problem … It’s worth more in exposure to me to just blow the lid on this thing. A few million dollars doesn’t move the needle for me.”

He was eventually charged with attempted extortion, honest services wire fraud, and transmission of interstate communications with the intent to extort. Avenatti pleaded not guilty, but after a three-week trial, the jury sided with prosecutors.

Avenatti used Daniels’s lawsuit against Trump to make himself infamous. In frequent media appearances over many months, Avenatti presented himself as a free-swinging  Trump adversary who was happy to wrestle the president where they both already lived — in the mud. He even said he would run for president against Trump, but there wasn’t much enthusiasm for a Democratic candidate who was in so many ways a mirror image of the president.

His journey as a defendant isn’t over, either. Avenatti still faces fraud and identity-theft charges over his representation of ex-client Stormy Daniels, and numerous other fraud and embezzlement charges in California.

Lawyer Michael Avenatti Found Guilty in Nike Extortion Trial