Lawyer Michael Avenatti is famous to many people in California for his representation of high-profile figures in the entertainment industry. He became nationally known after representing adult film star Stormy Daniels in her legal action against President Donald Trump over payments made to conceal an affair. However, Avenatti is now facing criminal charges after being arrested for allegedly attempting to extort $25 million from sneaker manufacturer Nike. Avenatti publicly tweeted and spoke about the potential to reveal information about Nike's involvement in an alleged high school basketball bribery case.
According to the charges filed by federal prosecutors, Avenatti allegedly attempted to compel Nike to pay him $15 to $25 million in legal fees in order for him to not disclose information that could indicate Nike paid the families of famous high-school basketball players. Prosecutors said that this did not indicate any serious effort to settle a legitimate claim on behalf of a client but was an effort to obtain money for himself through extortion. They presented excerpts from the recordings of the lawyer's calls with Nike lawyers, in which Avenatti allegedly said that his revelations would drive down Nike's stock price and market cap unless the company agreed to pay him the sums he demanded.
He was arrested only minutes after posting a tweet declaring that Nike was involved in a major scandal. While Nike's stock shot down after the tweet was released, it later recovered following news of Avenatti's arrest. The lawyer was released after his arrest on a $300,000 personal recognizance bond. He will need to forfeit this sum if he does not appear at his upcoming court date.
Federal charges, especially for white-collar crimes, can include a complex set of facts. A federal criminal defense attorney can help a client facing these charges present a strong defense and counter prosecution claims.