Michael Avenatti, the pugnacious lawyer who represented Stormy Daniels against Donald Trump and even flirted with running for president, is headed behind bars. On Thursday, a federal judge sentenced him to 30 months in prison for his attempt to extort more than $20 million from Nike.
“I and I alone have destroyed my career, my relationships, my life, and there is no doubt that I deserve to pay, have paid, and will pay a further price for what I have done,” Avenatti tearfully told the judge during the sentencing hearing in downtown Manhattan, according to the Washington Post. Avenatti was found guilty last year on multiple charges including attempted extortion.
In March 2019, during the height of his fame, Avenatti threatened to hold a press conference about misconduct perpetrated by the sportswear company unless Nike paid him and his client millions of dollars. In a phone call with Nike representatives that was recorded by the FBI, Avenatti could be heard saying, “I’m not fucking around with this, and I’m not continuing to play games. 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.”
At one point, Avenatti tweeted that he would reveal criminal conduct against Nike at a news conference that “reaches the highest levels of Nike and involves some of the biggest names in college basketball.” The charges filed by Manhattan federal prosecutors were announced less than an hour after that tweet was sent.