A California lawyer who attempted to extort up to $25 million from Nike Inc. was sentenced to two and a half years in prison by a federal Manhattan judge Thursday, July 8.
Michael Avenatti, who first walked into the national spotlight after representing adult film star Stormy Daniels in lawsuits against President Donald Trump, was convicted on all counts in February after a two-week trial, according to multiple reports.
"Michael Avenatti used illegal and extortionate threats and betrayed one of his clients for the purpose of seeking to obtain millions of dollars for himself," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said in a statement about the sentencing, reported ABC News.
"Not only did Avenatti attempt to weaponize his law license and celebrity to seek to extort payments for himself, he also defrauded his own client. Avenatti will now serve substantial time in prison for his criminal conduct."
Read our story from March 25, 2019, on Michael Avenatti's arrest on charges of extortion, fraud and embezzlement.
Avenatti, 50, attempted to use his own public image "in an attempt to extort a publicly-traded company out of tens of millions of dollars," prosecutors said in a statement reported by ABC News.
In a statement, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District Geoffrey Berman called Avenatti's extortion attempt "an old-fashioned shakedown," ABC News reported.
Nike lawyers noted in a victim-impact statement that Avenatti did considerable harm to the company when he tried to falsely link the company to a scandal involving paying high school athletes to play for Nike-sponsored teams.
Avenatti faces additional federal charges for defrauding his clients and withholding payments, He faces a separate federal case where he is accused of stealing a book advance from Daniels, ABC News reported.
"I am not surprised his dishonesty has been revealed on a grand scale," Daniels wrote in an Instagram post following the verdict. "His arrogant, fraudulent and overly aggressive behavior became so pervasive that the jury found his true character."
Daniels dropped Avenatti as her lawyer in 2019.
Nike is headquartered just outside Beaverton in unincorporated Washington County. The company also has offices in the Tanasbourne area of Hillsboro. It also maintains two private jets at the Hillsboro Airport.
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