Cable television networks liked to tout him as the next president, but disgraced high-profile lawyer Michael Avenatti is heading to the cooler—perhaps for several decades.
His crime—attempted extortion of Nike, allegedly for tens of millions of dollars.
A jury on Friday, Feb. 14 in Manhattan federal court found Avenatti guilty on three counts, including extortion, wire fraud and transmission of interstate communications with intent to extort. Avenatti, who didn’t testify, faces up to 42 years imprisonment for his crimes.
An audio recording was used in evidence against him in the Nike trial, profanely threatening to “take $10 billion off [the company’s] market cap” if a payment of $15 million wasn’t made to him to conduct an internal probe of Nike.“I’m not [expletive] around with this. … A few million dollars doesn’t move the needle for me,” he said during one of three phone calls with a Nike lawyer in March 2019, reported the New York Post.
“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,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said in a statement.
A Nike rep added, “The verdict speaks volumes. We thank the jurors for their time and service, which is the bedrock of the American judicial system.”
In 2018, Avenatti appeared on CNN a total of 74 times over a 10-week period. He represented porn star Stormy Daniels in her failed lawsuit against President Trump, after announcing the lawsuit on March 6, 2018.
The “creepy porn lawyer,” as he is known, was touted by CNN hosts as a serious contender for the 2020 presidency. Brian Stelter the left-wing media critic said, “looking ahead to 2020, one reason I’m taking you seriously as a contender is because of your presence on cable news.”
Avenatti, an avid President Trump basher, was a regular on late-night shows, NSNBC and “The View,” and spent much of his spare time partying with the stars of CNN.