Michael Avenatti is convicted of trying to extort Nike

NEW YORK (AP) — Michael Avenatti, the combative lawyer who gained fame by representing a porn star in lawsuits involving President Donald Trump, was convicted Friday of trying to extort sportswear giant Nike.

The verdict was returned Friday by a federal jury in Manhattan following a three-week trial in which prosecutors said Avenatti threatened to use his media access to hurt Nike's reputation and stock price unless the company paid him up to $25 million.

The convictions for attempted extortion and honest services fraud carry a combined potential penalty of 42 years in prison.

Avenatti glared at the jurors as the verdict was being announced but said nothing.

Afterward, he shook hands with his lawyers and told them “great job," before he was led back to the cell where he has been held since a judge found he had violated his bail conditions.

His lawyer, Scott Srebnick, declined to comment but said he would appeal the conviction. A judge set sentencing for June.

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FEBRUARY 11, 2020: Michael Avenatti announced that he would not testify in court during his forthcoming Nike extortion trial in New York. - JANUARY 15, 2020: Michael Avenatti arrested by Internal Revenue Service (IRS) federal agents in California on general charges of bail violations and new specific allegations that he scammed a client out of $840,000. - MAY 28, 2019: Michael Avenatti pleads not guilty in federal court in New York City to all charges of theft, extortion, embezzlement and fraud in the Stormy Daniels and Nike, Inc. cases described below. - MARCH 26, 2019: Federal prosecutors in Manhattan, NYC and Los Angeles, CA charged celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti nearly simultaneously in two criminal cases on Monday, March 25, 2019. These complaints allege that Avenatti attempted to extort more than $20 million from Nike, Inc. and that he committed wire fraud and bank fraud. - File Photo by: zz/Dennis Van Tine/STAR MAX/IPx 2018 4/16/18 Michael Avenatti holds a press conference at the Federal Courthouse in New York City following the hearing for President Donald Trump's lawyer, Michael Cohen, at the US District Court for the Southern District of New York State. (NYC)
FEBRUARY 11, 2020: Michael Avenatti announced that he would not testify in court during his forthcoming Nike extortion trial in New York. - JANUARY 15, 2020: Michael Avenatti arrested by Internal Revenue Service (IRS) federal agents in California on general charges of bail violations and new specific allegations that he scammed a client out of $840,000. - MAY 28, 2019: Michael Avenatti pleads not guilty in federal court in New York City to all charges of theft, extortion, embezzlement and fraud in the Stormy Daniels and Nike, Inc. cases described below. - MARCH 26, 2019: Federal prosecutors in Manhattan, NYC and Los Angeles, CA charged celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti nearly simultaneously in two criminal cases on Monday, March 25, 2019. These complaints allege that Avenatti attempted to extort more than $20 million from Nike, Inc. and that he committed wire fraud and bank fraud. - File Photo by: zz/GOTPAP/STAR MAX/IPx 2019 3/22/19 Michael Avenatti is seen outside Craig's Restaurant in West Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA.
FEBRUARY 11, 2020: Michael Avenatti announced that he would not testify in court during his forthcoming Nike extortion trial in New York. - JANUARY 15, 2020: Michael Avenatti arrested by Internal Revenue Service (IRS) federal agents in California on general charges of bail violations and new specific allegations that he scammed a client out of $840,000. - MAY 28, 2019: Michael Avenatti pleads not guilty in federal court in New York City to all charges of theft, extortion, embezzlement and fraud in the Stormy Daniels and Nike, Inc. cases described below. - MARCH 26, 2019: Federal prosecutors in Manhattan, NYC and Los Angeles, CA charged celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti nearly simultaneously in two criminal cases on Monday, March 25, 2019. These complaints allege that Avenatti attempted to extort more than $20 million from Nike, Inc. and that he committed wire fraud and bank fraud. - File Photo by: zz/GOTPAP/STAR MAX/IPx 2018 7/26/18 Michael Avenatti is seen at Craig's Restaurant in West Hollywood, CA.
FEBRUARY 11, 2020: Michael Avenatti announced that he would not testify in court during his forthcoming Nike extortion trial in New York. - JANUARY 15, 2020: Michael Avenatti arrested by Internal Revenue Service (IRS) federal agents in California on general charges of bail violations and new specific allegations that he scammed a client out of $840,000. - MAY 28, 2019: Michael Avenatti pleads not guilty in federal court in New York City to all charges of theft, extortion, embezzlement and fraud in the Stormy Daniels and Nike, Inc. cases described below. - MARCH 26, 2019: Federal prosecutors in Manhattan, NYC and Los Angeles, CA charged celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti nearly simultaneously in two criminal cases on Monday, March 25, 2019. These complaints allege that Avenatti attempted to extort more than $20 million from Nike, Inc. and that he committed wire fraud and bank fraud. - File Photo by: zz/KGC-146/STAR MAX/IPx 2018 4/16/18 Michael Avenatti holds a press conference at the Federal Courthouse in New York City following the hearing for President Donald Trump's lawyer, Michael Cohen, at the US District Court for the Southern District of New York State. (NYC)
FEBRUARY 11, 2020: Michael Avenatti announced that he would not testify in court during his forthcoming Nike extortion trial in New York. - JANUARY 15, 2020: Michael Avenatti arrested by Internal Revenue Service (IRS) federal agents in California on general charges of bail violations and new specific allegations that he scammed a client out of $840,000. - MAY 28, 2019: Michael Avenatti pleads not guilty in federal court in New York City to all charges of theft, extortion, embezzlement and fraud in the Stormy Daniels and Nike, Inc. cases described below. - MARCH 26, 2019: Federal prosecutors in Manhattan, NYC and Los Angeles, CA charged celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti nearly simultaneously in two criminal cases on Monday, March 25, 2019. These complaints allege that Avenatti attempted to extort more than $20 million from Nike, Inc. and that he committed wire fraud and bank fraud. - File Photo by: zz/Rothschild Media/STAR MAX/IPx 2018 8/20/18 Michael Avenatti at the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. (NYC)
FEBRUARY 11, 2020: Michael Avenatti announced that he would not testify in court during his forthcoming Nike extortion trial in New York. - JANUARY 15, 2020: Michael Avenatti arrested by Internal Revenue Service (IRS) federal agents in California on general charges of bail violations and new specific allegations that he scammed a client out of $840,000. - MAY 28, 2019: Michael Avenatti pleads not guilty in federal court in New York City to all charges of theft, extortion, embezzlement and fraud in the Stormy Daniels and Nike, Inc. cases described below. - MARCH 26, 2019: Federal prosecutors in Manhattan, NYC and Los Angeles, CA charged celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti nearly simultaneously in two criminal cases on Monday, March 25, 2019. These complaints allege that Avenatti attempted to extort more than $20 million from Nike, Inc. and that he committed wire fraud and bank fraud. - File Photo by: zz/GOTPAP/STAR MAX/IPx 2018 7/28/18 Michael Avenatti is seen at Craig's Restaurant in West Hollywood, CA.
FEBRUARY 11, 2020: Michael Avenatti announced that he would not testify in court during his forthcoming Nike extortion trial in New York. - JANUARY 15, 2020: Michael Avenatti arrested by Internal Revenue Service (IRS) federal agents in California on general charges of bail violations and new specific allegations that he scammed a client out of $840,000. - MAY 28, 2019: Michael Avenatti pleads not guilty in federal court in New York City to all charges of theft, extortion, embezzlement and fraud in the Stormy Daniels and Nike, Inc. cases described below. - MARCH 26, 2019: Federal prosecutors in Manhattan, NYC and Los Angeles, CA charged celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti nearly simultaneously in two criminal cases on Monday, March 25, 2019. These complaints allege that Avenatti attempted to extort more than $20 million from Nike, Inc. and that he committed wire fraud and bank fraud. - File Photo by: zz/Dennis Van Tine/STAR MAX/IPx 2018 4/16/18 Michael Avenatti holds a press conference at the Federal Courthouse in New York City following the hearing for President Donald Trump's lawyer, Michael Cohen, at the US District Court for the Southern District of New York State. (NYC)
In this courtroom sketch, Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Sobelman, standing, points to Michael Avenatti, far left, as he makes opening remarks during trial in New York, Wednesday Jan. 29, 2020. A prosecutor kicked off opening statements at Avenatti's attempted extortion trial by saying the deep-in-debt California lawyer tried to extort Nike to line his pockets. (Elizabeth Williams via AP)
In this courtroom sketch, defense attorney Howard Srebnick, second from right, points to his client Michael Avenatti, far left, as he makes opening remarks during trial in New York, Wednesday Jan. 29, 2020. A prosecutor kicked off opening statements at Avenatti's attempted extortion trial by saying the deep-in-debt California lawyer tried to extort Nike to line his pockets. (Elizabeth Williams via AP)
FILE - In this Dec. 17, 2019, file photo, California attorney Michael Avenatti arrives at federal court in New York. A California businessman who enlisted Avenatti to help his friend deal with two corrupt Nike executives testified Monday, Feb. 3, 2020, that he reacted with shock and horror when he learned the attorney was threatening to go public with his information. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
Attorney Michael Avenatti, left, is surrounded by photographers as he leaves Manhattan Federal court, Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
California attorney Michael Avenatti makes a statement to the press after leaving a courthouse in New York Tuesday, July 23, 2019. Avenatti is accused of cheating porn star Stormy Daniels out of $300,000 in a book deal. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
California attorney Michael Avenatti walks from a courthouse in New York Tuesday, July 23, 2019, after facing charges accusing him of cheating porn star Stormy Daniels out of $300,000 in a book deal. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
Attorney Michael Avenatti, who says he represents three victims of singer R. Kelly, three whisleblowers who have information about the case and three parents of victims, speaks to reporters during a news conference in Chicago, Monday, July 15, 2019. Avenatti says that at least one of the whistleblowers made copies of the tapes that Avenatti ultimately turned over to Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx. (AP Photo/Amr Alfiky)
Attorney Michael Avenatti, center, walks through a metal detector at federal court Monday, April 1, 2019, in Santa Ana, Calif. Avenatti appeared in federal court on charges he fraudulently obtained $4 million in bank loans and pocketed $1.6 million that belonged to a client. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Federal defender Sylvie Levine, Michael Avenatti, Federal Defender Amy Gallicchio, Assistant US Attorney Robert Boone, at Avenatti's brief appearance Monday, March 25, 2019, at the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York in New York City. Avenatti, the pugnacious attorney best known for representing porn actress Stormy Daniels in lawsuits against President Donald Trump, was arrested Monday on charges that included trying to shake down Nike for as much as $25 million by threatening the company with bad publicity. (Elizabeth Williams via AP)
Attorney Michael Avenatti leaves Federal Court after his initial appearance in an extortion case Monday, March 25, 2019, in New York. Avenatti was arrested Monday on charges that included trying to shake down Nike for as much as $25 million by threatening the company with bad publicity. (AP Photo/Kevin Hagen).
***FILE PHOTO** Michael Avenatti arrested for alleged $20 million Nike extortion attempt. NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 26: Michael Avenatti, attorney for adult film star Stormy Daniels, spotted arriving at 'The View' in New York, New York on March 26 , 2018. Photo Credit: Rainmaker Photo/MediaPunch /IPX
***FILE PHOTO** Michael Avenatti arrested for alleged $20 million Nike extortion attempt. LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 26: Stormy Daniels and Michael Avenatti at the 2019 AVN Awards at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada on January 26, 2019. Credit: Damairs Carter/MediaPunch /IPX
Attorney Michael Avenatti, who is representing an alleged R. Kelly victim, speaks to reporters at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse in Chicago after the R&B singer entered a not guilty plea to all 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, Monday morning, Feb. 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Teresa Crawford)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 26: Stormy Daniels and Michael Avenatti at the 2019 AVN Awards at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada on January 26, 2019. Credit: Damairs Carter/MediaPunch /IPX
Photo by: gotpap/STAR MAX/IPx 2018 12/31/18 Michael Avenatti is seen in Los Angeles, CA.
Michael Avenatti participates in the "How To Beat Trump: Kathy Griffin Interviews Michael Avenatti" panel at Politicon at the Los Angeles Convention Center on Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP)
Jonathan Capehart, from left, Kathy Griffin and Michael Avenatti participate in the "How To Beat Trump: Kathy Griffin Interviews Michael Avenatti" panel at Politicon at the Los Angeles Convention Center on Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP)
In this September 2018 photo, attorney Michael Avenatti, right, poses with Mareli Miniutti for a photo at a party in New York. Miniutti alleges that Avenatti dragged her across the floor of his Los Angeles apartment after an argument over money, according to court documents obtained Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018, by The Associated Press. Avenatti, who was arrested the week before on a felony domestic violence charge, called the allegations "completely false." He's scheduled to appear in court in December 2018. (Marion Curtis/StarPix via AP)
Michael Avenatti, right, an attorney and entrepreneur, arrives to speak at the Hillsborough County Democrats' Summer Picnic fundraiser in Greenfield, N.H. Sunday, Aug.19, 2018. Avenatti, the attorney taking on President Donald Trump over his alleged affair with an adult film actress, is exploring a possible 2020 run for president. (AP Photo/ Cheryl Senter)
Michael Avenatti, an attorney and entrepreneur, speaks at the Hillsborough County Democrats' Summer Picnic fundraiser in Greenfield, N.H. Sunday, Aug.19, 2018. Michael Avenatti, the attorney taking on President Donald Trump over his alleged affair with an adult film actress, is exploring a possible 2020 run for president. (AP Photo/ Cheryl Senter)
FILE - In this July 17, 2018, file photo, Michael Avenatti, attorney for porn star Stormy Daniels, speaks at an "Occupy Lafayette Park" protest outside the White House in Washington. Avenatti, the attorney who's garnered national attention demanding transparency as one of President Donald Trump's chief critics, convinced a federal judge to bar the media from covering a bankruptcy court case involving his former law firm. Bankruptcy Judge Catherine Bauer allowed Avenatti to give testimony Wednesday, July 25 behind closed doors. In May, Eagan Avenatti, was ordered to pay $10 million to a lawyer who claimed that the firm misstated its profits and he was owed millions. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)
Michael Avenatti, attorney for porn actress Stormy Daniels, speaks at a protest outside the White House, Tuesday, July 17, 2018, in Washington. This is the second day in a row the group has held a protest following President Donald Trump's meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
FILE - In this Thursday, May 10, 2018 file photo Michael Avenatti, is interviewed in New York. Avenatti, who has gained national attention as the lawyer for porn actress Stormy Daniels, is scheduled on Aug. 10 to speak at an Iowa Democratic fundraiser that has been a frequent stop for those seeking the presidential nomination. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
ARCHIVO - En esta fotografía del 16 de abril de 2018, la actriz porno Stormy Daniels, acompañada por su abogado Michael Avenatti, habla con los medios afuera de un tribunal federal en Nueva York. (AP Foto/Mary Altaffer, Archivo)
FILE - In this April 16, 2018 file photo, Stormy Daniels, right, and her attorney Michael Avenatti turn from the microphones after speaking as they leave federal court in New York. Avenatti, the trash-talking lawyer who became a household name by representing a porn star and hounding Donald Trump, is now in the legal fight of his life against federal charges that could send him to prison for the rest of his life. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
Photo by: KGC-146/STAR MAX/IPx 2018 4/16/18 Stormy Daniels' lawyer Michael Avenatti at Michael Cohen's court hearing in New York City.
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Avenatti, 48, became a cable news fixture in 2018 and 2019 as journalists courted him for information about porn star Stormy Daniels and her claims of a Trump tryst before he became president, and a payoff to remain silent about it. At his peak of notoriety, Avenatti used Twitter and TV appearances to relentlessly criticize Trump and even considered running for president himself.

But Avenatti's fall was swift. He was arrested as he was about to meet Nike lawyers last March to press his demands for millions of dollars to conduct an internal probe of the Beaverton, Oregon-based apparel maker.

Avenatti maintained he was taking the aggressive position at the urging of his client, Gary Franklin, who ran a youth basketball league in Los Angeles and was angry that Nike ended a decadelong sponsorship that provided $72,000 annually and free gear. He sought $1.5 million for Franklin, as well.

Franklin testified that two Nike executives forced him to pay money to the mother of an elite high school basketball player's mother and to pass along payments to the handlers of other players while doctoring paperwork to hide the purpose of the funds.

Avenatti did not testify, but his lawyers said he was following the wishes of Franklin and an entertainment executive who advised him to be aggressive to force Nike to fire corrupt executives and fix its culture.

Besides the extortion trial, Avenatti also faces an April trial in New York on charges that he defrauded Daniels of book proceeds and a May trial in Los Angeles on charges that he defrauded clients and others of millions of dollars.

He remains held without bail. Federal prosecutors in Los Angeles succeeded last month in getting him locked up after saying he violated his $300,000 bail by moving money around illegally after his arrest.

 

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