Michael Avenatti Indicted for Attempting to Extort Nike for More Than $20 Million

He allegedly threatened to release damaging information on the company.

G. Ronald Lopez/ZUMA

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

Federal prosecutors in New York have charged Michael Avenatti with attempting to extort more than $20 million from Nike by threatening to release damaging information about the company.

“On or about March 20, 2019, Avenatti and CC-1 spoke by telephone with attorneys for Nike, during which Avenatti stated, with respect to his demands for payment of millions of dollars, that if those demands were not met ‘I’ll go take ten billion dollars off your client’s market cap…I’m not fucking around,'” a court filing stated.

The announcement came shortly after a tweet from Avenatti on Monday that alleged to disclose a “major high school/college basketball scandal” committed by Nike.

In addition, federal prosecutors in California on Monday indicted Avenatti with separate charges of bank and wire fraud. “Attorney Michael Avenatti was arrested today pursuant to a criminal complaint alleging he embezzled a client’s money in order to pay his own expenses and debts—as well as those of his coffee business and law firm—and also defrauded a bank by using phony tax returns to obtain millions of dollars in loans,” the US Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California wrote in a statement.

Avenatti is best known for representing the adult film actress Stormy Daniels in her lawsuit against President Donald Trump. A DOJ press conference is scheduled for 2:30 pm EST.

This is a breaking news post. We will update as more information becomes available.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest