Avenatti Guilty in Extortion Case

Cheryl Sanders
February 14, 2020

"On this conviction alone, I'm just sort of roughing it out, he's looking at something in the range of at least three to five years in prison", Honig claimed.

Avenatti, 48, became a cable news fixture in 2018 and 2019 as journalists courted him for information about porn star Stormy Daniels and her claims of a Trump tryst before he became president, and a payoff to remain silent about it.

Prosecutors say the lawyer threatened to publicly accuse athletic apparel maker Nike of illicitly paying amateur basketball players unless the company paid him millions of dollars.

Michael Avenatti has been found guilty on all charges related to an alleged plot to siphon more than $20 million from Nike Inc.

Prosecutors said he had more than $11 million in debts at the time.

The jury convicted Mr. Avenatti on all three counts he faced: extortion, transmission of interstate communications with intent to extort, and wire fraud. "While the defendant may have tried to hide behind legal terms and a suit and tie, the jury clearly saw the defendant's scheme for what it was - an old fashioned shakedown". At his peak of notoriety, Avenatti used Twitter and TV appearances to relentlessly criticize Trump and even considered running for president himself. But a year ago his reputation was destroyed.

Avenatti showed no reaction as the verdict was read.

Avenatti's lawyers argued their client had acted in good faith and did exactly what Franklin wanted in demanding a probe and threatening publicity that could expose Nike's alleged corruption, and harm its reputation and stock price. He looked straight ahead with a sad expression.

In exchange for not going public, Avenatti told the lawyers in one meeting Nike would have to pay Franklin US$1.5 million for any claims he had and immediately pay Avenatti and another attorney $12 million, and guarantee $15 to $25 million in payments for an internal investigation, prosecutors said. A judge set sentencing for June.

Besides the extortion trial, Avenatti also faces an April trial in NY on charges that he defrauded Daniels of book proceeds and a May trial in Los Angeles on charges that he defrauded clients and others of millions of dollars.

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