Celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti charged with trying to extort millions from Nike

first_imgTmrw at 11 am ET, we will be holding a press conference to disclose a major high school/college basketball scandal perpetrated by @Nike that we have uncovered. This criminal conduct reaches the highest levels of Nike and involves some of the biggest names in college basketball.— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) March 25, 2019But federal prosecutors announced within minutes that it was Avenatti who was facing criminal charges. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, Avenatti ​”attempted to extract more than $20 million in payments from a publicly traded company by threatening to use his ability to garner publicity to inflict substantial financial and reputational harm on the company if his demands were not met.”​ Related News A complaint  unsealed Monday said Avenatti contacted Nike last week saying he was representing an AAU coach whose contract with Nike had recently expired. Avenatti claimed the coach had evidence that Nike employees had “authorized and funded payments to the families of top high school basketball players and/or their families and attempted to conceal those payments.” Avenatti threatened to go public with his information unless Nike paid the AAU coach $1.5 million and retained Avenatti to conduct an internal investigation. #MichaelAvenatti charged with engaging in a scheme to extort Nike pic.twitter.com/zxS6vSyavu— US Attorney SDNY (@SDNYnews) March 25, 2019Prosecutors said Avenatti was then recorded on a March 20 call with Nike lawyers saying, “I’m not f—ing around with this, and I’m not continuing to play games. … You guys know enough now to know you’ve got a serious problem.”Avenatti continued: “A few million dollars doesn’t move the needle for me. I’m just being really frank with you. So it that’s what, if that’s what’s being contemplated, the let’s just say it was good to meet you and we’re done. I’ll proceed with my press conference tomorrow.” Avenatti, 48, is also charged in a separate federal case in Los Angeles, where he is also facing bank and wire fraud charges for alleged embezzlement unrelated to the New York extortion case.​The same U.S. Attorney’s office has led the investigation into a wide-ranging college basketball bribery scandal centering on payments allegedly funneled to top recruits, with officials from Nike’s rival Adidas among those implicated. Shortly after Michael Avenatti promised to reveal a “major” scandal carried out by Nike, the Justice Department charged the high-profile attorney with attempting to extort millions from the sportswear company. Avenatti, the lawyer most famous for representing Stormy Daniels in her lawsuits against President Donald Trump, tweeted Monday that he was going to hold a press conference Tuesday “to disclose a major high school/college basketball scandal” and that the “criminal conduct reaches the highest levels of Nike and involves some of the biggest names in college basketball.” Former Auburn assistant Chuck Person pleads guilty to bribery in federal courtlast_img

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