Michael Avenatti sentenced to two and a half years in prison for extortion

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Michael Avenatti sentenced to two and a half years in prison for extortion


Michael Avenatti, the brash lawyer who rose to prominence portraying porn actress Stormy Daniels in the lawsuit against Donald Trump before a whirlwind of criminal charges ended his legal career, was sentenced Thursday to 2 and a half years in prison for attempting to extort Nike.
US District Judge Paul Gardephe in Manhattan said Avenatti, 50, “got drunk on the power of his platform” by betraying his client, a young basketball coach, for his own gain.

“Mr. Avenatti’s conduct was outrageous,” Gardephe said. “He hijacked his client’s claims and he used those claims to advance his own agenda, which was to extort millions of dollars from Nike for himself. “

The conviction crowns a precipitous fall for a once-obscure lawyer who in 2018 became a cable news apparatus, denigrating then-President Trump and even flirting with a White House official himself.

Those political aspirations evaporated when prosecutors in California and New York City charged Avenatti with fraud in March 2019. California prosecutors said he was enjoying a lifestyle of $ 200,000 a month while fooling millions of dollar customers and failing to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue service.

Charges alleging he cheated Daniels over proceeds from a book deal followed weeks later. Avenatti has pleaded not guilty to all counts.

Nike attorneys have said Michael Avenatti caused considerable harm to the company by falsely trying to link it to a scandal in which bribes were paid to the families of college basketball players linked to the NBA to steer them towards powerful programs. [Brendan McDermid/Reuters]

The tapes showed Avenatti telling lawyers for Nike he would “blow the lid” on the sportswear company and wipe out $ 10 billion from its market value unless it bowed to his demands.

Prosecutors said Avenatti was counting on a big salary to cover his own debts. Nike has denied any wrongdoing.

Avenatti was also convicted of defrauding coach Gary Franklin by not telling him he would not settle down unless there was an investigation.

Franklin had been upset that Nike had stopped sponsoring their program and said he just wanted to reestablish their relationship. He said Avenatti had “destroyed my reputation” in his community.

Before being sentenced, Avenatti lost his temper by admitting to “lost his way,” and apologized to Franklin and others.

“TV and Twitter, your honor, don’t mean anything,” Avenatti told the judge. “Everyone wants to get in a limo with you, but very few are willing to sit next to you on the bus. Even less, your honor, are ready to answer your calls from prison.

“Me and I alone destroyed my career, my relationships, my life,” he added.

Michael Avenatti has represented adult film actress Stormy Daniels in lawsuits against former President Donald Trump [File: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters]

Prosecutors called for a “very heavy” sentence, citing the US Probation Department’s recommendation of an eight-year prison sentence. Lawyers for Avenatti said six months in jail and one year in house arrest was sufficient punishment.

In a victim impact statement, Nike attorneys said Avenatti caused considerable harm to the company by falsely trying to link it to a scandal in which bribes were paid to the families of college basketball players linked to the NBA to steer them towards powerful programs. An employee of Adidas, a competitor of Nike, was convicted in this lawsuit.

Lawyers said Avenatti threatened to cause billions of dollars in damage to Nike, then falsely tweeted that criminal conduct at Nike had reached “the highest levels.”

In their pre-sentence brief, Avenatti’s lawyers said their client had suffered enough, citing enormous public disgrace and a difficult stint in prison last year that ended after lawyers said he was particularly vulnerable to coronavirus.



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