A federal court in New York convicted celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti on Friday on three counts of trying to extort $25 million from Nike.
“The verdict was returned Friday by a Manhattan federal jury after it deliberated charges of attempted extortion and honest services fraud in what prosecutors say was an attempt by Avenatti to extort up to $25 million from Nike with threats to otherwise harm it,” The Associated Press reported. “The charges carry a combined potential penalty of 42 years in prison.”
Avenatti, who gained notoriety by attacking President Donald Trump, was charged in March 2019 after he threatened to publicly accuse the company of illegally paying amateur athletes unless Nike paid him.
When Avenatti was charged, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said: “As alleged, Avenatti used illegal and extortionate threats for the purpose of obtaining millions of dollars in payments from a public company. Calling this anticipated payout a retainer or a settlement doesn’t change what it was – a shakedown. When lawyers use their law licenses as weapons, as a guise to extort payments for themselves, they are no longer acting as attorneys. They are acting as criminals, and they will held responsible for their conduct.”
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