Michael Avenatti is sentenced to 2.5 years in prison for Nike extortion

Michael Avenatti is sentenced to 2.5 years in prison for Nike extortion
Michael Avenatti is sentenced to 2.5 years in prison for Nike extortion

Michael Avenatti, the lawyer who gained fame by representing porn star Stormy Daniels against President Donald Trump, has been sentenced to 30 months in prison over a $25 million Nike extortion scheme.  

The brash California lawyer, 50, was sentenced in a Manhattan federal court on Thursday after issuing a tearful and groveling apology to the judge as he decried his fame, saying 'TV and Twitter mean nothing'.  

Avenatti was convicted by a jury a year ago of trying to extort Nike by threatening to use his media access to hurt the brand's reputation and stock price when he represented a Los Angeles youth basketball league organizer upset the company had ended its league sponsorship.

He was accused of threatening to expose allegations Nike was funneling payments to college basketball players unless the company paid him millions of dollars to conduct an internal investigation.

Prior to his sentencing, Avenatti told the court he had 'betrayed' his profession and was 'deeply sorry' for the pain he had caused. 

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'I betrayed my profession. I became driven by the things that don't matter in life. Over the last two years I have often to myself, why did this need to happen?' he said.

Avenatti, who rose to fame as Stormy Daniels' attorney, is pictured above arriving at Manhattan federal court ahead of his sentencing

'I've learned all the fame, notoriety and money in world is meaningless. TV and Twitter mean nothing. Everyone wants to ride in a limo with you but very few are willing to sit next to you on the bus... even fewer are willing to take your calls from prison.

'Despite the deep shame and remorse, I still feel positive because I can do better.'

Avenatti teared up as he said: 'I look forward to working hard to become the person I once was. I will, if given a chance. But I know I will never have the privilege of practicing law again. 

'I, and I alone, have destroyed my career, my relationships, my life. There is no doubt I deserve to pay, have paid and will further pay for what I have done. 

'Someone asked me what I want my three kids to think of me. I want mine to be ashamed because if they're ashamed it means their moral compass is exactly where it should be.' 

The Manhattan US attorney's office had urged the judge to impose a 'very substantial' sentence. Avenatti's charges could have brought a sentence of up to 42 years. 

Avenatti's lawyers had argued that six months in prison and a year of home detention was enough punishment.

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His sentencing had been delayed seven times amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Avenatti represented Stormy Daniels in a lawsuit seeking to break a confidentiality agreement so she could speak about her alleged affair with Trump before he ran for president. He has since been charged with cheating her of $300,000

Avenatti represented Stormy Daniels in a lawsuit seeking to break a confidentiality agreement so she could speak about her alleged affair with Trump before he ran for president. He has since been charged with cheating her of $300,000

Avenatti is pictured above after being released from Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York in New York City in April 2020. He was allowed to be under house arrest with a friend in California

Avenatti is pictured above after being released from Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York in New York City in April 2020. He was allowed to be under house arrest with a friend in California

THE CHARGES AGAINST MICHAEL AVENATTI 

The Nike case 

Avenatti was charged in March 2019 with three counts; extortion, honest services fraud and transmission of interstate communications with intent to extort.

He tried to get Nike to pay him $25million and, in exchange, said he would not expose them for alleged payments to college basketball players - something that is banned. 

Nike reported him to the authorities instead.  

The Stormy Daniels Case 

In the second case to be filed against him in New York, Avenatti is charged with identity theft and wire fraud. 

He allegedly forged Stormy Daniels' signature to steal $300,000 in payments from her book. 

He represented Daniels in her fight against Donald Trump and Michael Cohen during the 2016 presidential election when they gave her hush money to keep her allegations that she'd slept with Trump quiet. 

If convicted, he faces 20 years in prison.   

The IRS and Justice Department Case

The most serious indictment was filed in California. 

It charges Avenatti with 36 counts of tax fraud, among other crimes. If convicted, he faces 335 years behind bars in that case.  

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