HomePoliticsFederal Court Hands Disgraced Attorney Michael Avenatti Painful News

Federal Court Hands Disgraced Attorney Michael Avenatti Painful News

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Wednesday, a federal appeals court upheld the conviction of disgraced attorney Michael Avenatti for conspiring to extort up to $25 million from Nike, one of several legal disasters that have landed him in prison.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Avenatti’s claim that there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction in February 2020 on charges of extortion and honest-services fraud for threatening to slander Nike in the media if he wasn’t paid. (The decision itself appears in its entirety below.)

A three-judge panel weighing Avenatti’s appeal found that evidence, including bank statements, text messages, emails and witness testimony, was enough to permit “a reasonable jury to conclude that he had no claim of right to a personal payment from Nike, let alone to a $15-25 million payment.”

In addition, the commission rejected Avenatti’s claims that jurors were not properly instructed in the law and that the trial judge missed a deadline for requiring him to pay Nike restitution.

A comment request was sent to Avenatti’s attorney.

Avenatti, who rose to prominence representing porn actress Stormy Daniels in litigation against former President Donald Trump, was convicted of stealing book proceeds from Daniels and sentenced to 14 years in prison for stealing settlement funds from clients and failing to pay taxes on a coffee chain he owned last year.

Avenatti was sentenced to 212 years in prison and ordered to pay $260,000 in restitution in the Nike case.

Avenatti, age 52, is incarcerated in a federal penitentiary near Los Angeles, where he previously resided and practiced law. His license to practice law has been suspended, and he is scheduled for parole from prison in 2036.

According to prosecutors, in March 2019, Avenatti and another attorney — identified in the appellate court’s judgment as former Michael Jackson attorney Mark Geragos — went to Nike alleging to have evidence from a whistleblower client that the company was paying amateur basketball players.

Avenatti demanded that Nike pay a settlement to the whistleblower and hire him and Geragos “to conduct an internal investigation into corruption in basketball,” or they would hold a news conference on the eve of the company’s quarterly earnings call to “blow the lid on this scandal,” prosecutors said.

According to prosecutors, Avenatti informed Nike officials that they could either pay him and Geragos $15 million to $25 million to investigate the allegations, or pay him more than $22 million to remain silent.

Geragos, who was not charged, later told prosecutors that he felt Avenatti had “crossed a line” with Nike and expressed to Avenatti that he was “concerned about and uncomfortable with the situation.”

Avenatti was detained in New York just before he was to meet with Nike’s attorneys to urge his demands.

On the same day, he was charged with theft from clients by federal prosecutors in California.

Prosecutors stated that Avenatti’s behavior may have been motivated in part by crippling debt resulting from a lavish lifestyle that included a private aircraft, fast vehicles, and expensive artwork.

At the time of his extortion prosecution, Avenatti owed at least $11 million and had been evicted from his law offices for failing to pay rent of approximately $50,000 per month.

You can read the entire court decision below:

United States of America, A… by The Western Journal

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