Court maintains ’20 Avenatti conviction in Nike case

Aug 30, 2023, 01:09 PM ET

NEW YORK– A federal appeals court on Wednesday maintained disgraced lawyer Michael Avenatti’s conviction for plotting to extort as much as $25 million from Nike– one of several legal messes that have actually landed him behind bars.The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declined Avenatti’s claim that there wasn’t adequate evidence to support his February 2020 conviction on charges of extortion and sincere services scams for threatening to smear Nike in the media if he didn’t get paid.A three-judge panel weighing Avenatti’s appeal found that evidence, including bank statements, text messages, emails and witness statement, was enough to allow”a reasonable jury to conclude that he had no claim of right to an individual payment from Nike, let alone to a$ 15 million- $25 million payment.”The panel likewise turned down Avenatti’s claims that jurors weren’t properly advised in the law and that the trial judge missed out on a due date for needing him to pay restitution to Nike.A message seeking comment was left with Avenatti’s lawyer.Avenatti, who rose to popularity representing porn actor Stormy Daniels in litigation versus former President Donald Trump, was convicted in 2015 of

taking book profits from Daniels and sentenced to 14 years in prison for stealing settlement funds from clients and failing to pay taxes for a coffee chain he owned.In the Nike case, Avenatti, 52, was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in jail and ordered to pay$260,000 in restitution. He is jailed at a federal jail near Los Angeles, where he lived and practiced law, and is scheduled to be launched from jail in 2036. His law license is suspended.According to district attorneys, Avenatti and another attorney– identified in the appellate court’s judgment as one-time Michael Jackson lawyer Mark Geragos– went to Nike in March 2019 claiming to have proof from a whistleblower customer that the business was paying amateur basketball players.Avenatti required Nike pay a settlement to the whistleblower and hire him and Geragos”to conduct an internal examination into corruption in basketball “or they would hold a news conference on the eve of the company’s quarterly revenues call to”blow

the lid on this scandal,” prosecutors said.Avenatti told Nike officials that they might either pay him and Geragos$ 15 million to $25 million to examine the allegations or pay him more than $ 22 million for his silence, prosecutors said.Geragos, who was not charged, later told district attorneys that he felt Avenatti had” crossed a line”with Nike and expressed to Avenatti that he was”worried about and unpleasant with the situation.”Avenatti was apprehended in New York as he was about to meet Nike attorneys to push his needs.

The same day, federal district attorneys in California charged him with taking from customers. District attorneys said Avenatti’s habits may have been motivated by debilitating financial obligation stemming, in part, from a high-flying lifestyle that

included a private jet, quick vehicles and expensive artwork.Evidence presented at Avenatti’s extortion trial showed he owed at least$ 11 million at the time and had been evicted from his law workplaces for failure to pay lease that amounted to approximately$50,000 a month.

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