Michael Avenatti Sentenced To 30 Months In Prison For Extorting Nike
California lawyer Michael Avenatti was sentenced to 30 months in prison on July 8 for attempting to extort Nike for up to $25 million by threatening them with bad publicity.
Avenatti was convicted of charges of attempted extortion when he represented a Los Angeles youth basketball league organizer who was upset that Nike was no longer going to sponsor the team.
Avenatti is facing a fraud trial next week in Los Angeles and a second criminal trial in the future. Moreover, he is also facing a separate trial in 2022 in Manhattan where he is charged with cheating his former client Stormy Daniels.
Avenatti represented Daniels in 2018. Daniels had filed lawsuits against former President Donald Trump. Daniels claimed she was paid $130,000 in 2016 by Trump’s personal lawyer after being involved in a tryst with the former president. Trump has denied the claim.
Avenatti considered running against Trump in the 2020 presidential elections, confident that he would “have no problem raising money.”
California prosecutors claimed Avanatti was living a $200,000-a-month lifestyle while failing to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Internal Revenue Service. As a result, Avenatti was charged with fraud in 2019. Avenatti pleaded “not guilty” to the charges.
Prosecutors suggested an eight-year prison sentence for Avenatti, but his lawyers made a counteroffer, saying that six months in prison and a year of home prison was justified.
On July 6, U.S. District Judge Paul G. Gardephe denied a request from Avenatti’s lawyers to throw out his Nike conviction. Gardephe wrote that, according to the evidence, Avenatti “devised an approach to Nike that was designed to enrich himself” rather than help his clients.
Prosecutors said Avenatti tried to enrich himself by “weaponizing his public profile” by blackmailing Nike.
In a victim-impact statement, Nike’s lawyers claimed Avenatti harmed the company by attempting to link it to a scandal. Lawyers said Avenatti blackmailed Nike by saying he was going to do billions of dollars worth of damage to the company.
Avenatti’s past client, Gary Franklin Jr., claimed in a statement presented by prosecutors that Avanatti’s representation had “devastated me financially, professionally, and emotionally.”
In their pre-sentence submission, Avenatti’s lawyers said that the amount of public shame and time in jail last year was enough punishment for him, given that he was vulnerable to COVID-19.
“Avenatti’s epic fall and public shaming has played out in front of the entire world. The Court may take judicial notice of this fact, as Avenatti’s cataclysmic fall has been well-documented,” the lawyers wrote.