It probably won’t come as a surprise, but this afternoon, a federal jury convicted Michael Avenatti of trying to extort up to $25 million from Nike by threatening to reveal how the company moved money through the grassroots EYBL basketball league. He was found guilty on all three counts and the charges carry a combined potential penalty of 42 years in prison.
Avenatti is most famous for representing porn star Stormy Daniels in lawsuits vs. President Donald Trump and still faces additional criminal charges in the Southern District of New York for stealing the book advance on Daniels’ memoir. That case is supposed to go to trial this spring.
Faced with crushing debt (allegedly over $11 million), Avenatti took on the case of Gary Franklin, a youth basketball coach whose team was once sponsored by Nike. Once that sponsorship ended, Franklin made claims that Nike forced him to make illicit payments to players and families, claiming to have 16 recordings of telephone conversations about deals. According to NBC News, Avenatti went after Nike last March demanding that they pay Franklin $1.5 million and compensate him and another lawyer $15-$25 million to conduct an internal investigation of the company. He was arrested on March 25.
I’d like to say this is the last we hear from Avenatti but I’m sure it won’t be.