Attorney Michael Avenatti makes his way to an awaiting vehicle after addressing the media outside the Santa Ana federal courthouse in Santa Ana, California on May 7, 2019
Frederic J. Brown | AFP | Getty Images
Controversial lawyer Michael Avenatti was indicted on charges of trying to extort athletic shoe giant Nike out of tens of millions of dollars by threatening to go public with embarassing information about the company, according to federal court documents unsealed Wednesday in New York.
The indictment, which Avenatti had said Tuesday was imminent, was expected, as he had already been arrested on a criminal complaint that contained similar allegations of a brazen shakedown effort of Nike by hyper-aggressive attorney in March.
Avenatti is accused of telling lawyers for Nike “I’ll take ten billion dollars off your client’s market cap” by publicly accusing the company’s employees of authorizing and funding payments to families of top high school basketball players if Nike did not fork over millions of dollars to his client and to him personally.
Avenatti, who also faces an unrelated indictment in federal court in California on charges of ripping off clients and tax crimes, gained notoriety last year for his full-throated representation of porn star Stormy Daniels in her lawsuits against President Donald Trump and his former personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen.
Adult-film actress Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels speaks US Federal Court with her lawyer Michael Avenatti (R) on April 16, 2018, in Lower Manhattan, New York.
Eduardo Munoz Alvarez | AFP | Getty Images
Avenatti declined to comment when contacted by NBC News.
But in a Twitter post shortly after the indictment was revealed, he wrote, “I look forward to a jury hearing all of the evidence and passing judgment on my conduct.”
“At no time was any money misappropriated or mishandled. I will be fully exonerated once the relevant emails, contracts, text messages, and documents are presented,” Avenatti wrote.
In the indictment unsealed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, Avenatti is charged with extortion, conspiracy to commit extortion, conspiracy to transmit interstate communications with intent to extort,
and transmission of interstate communications with intent to extort.
This is a breaking news story. Check back for updates.
Read the new indictment against Michael Avenatti here: