Avenatti lashes out at Nike one day after arrest – POLITICO
Attorney Michael Avenatti accused sportswear giant Nike on Tuesday of illegally arranging payments to high school basketball players, leveling his allegations in a series of tweets posted one day after federal prosecutors brought explosive charges against the lawyer for alleged attempts to extort millions of dollars from the company.
The high-profile celebrity attorney, who rocketed into the national spotlight last year while representing adult film actress Stormy Daniels in her case against President Donald Trump, was arrested Monday and indicted simultaneously on separate charges of financial crimes in New York and Los Angeles.
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Avenatti on Tuesday tweeted that he was “anxious for people to see what really happened.”
“We never attempted to extort Nike & when the evidence is disclosed, the public will learn the truth about Nike’s crime & coverup,” he wrote.
According to federal prosecutors in New York, Avenatti met with Nike lawyers last week and threatened to unleash a storm of negative publicity before the company’s quarterly earnings call and the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Avenatti represented a basketball coach of a California amateur team who allegedly had evidence of Nike employees authorizing secret payments to top high school players.
Avenatti and his unnamed co-conspirator — reported to be Mark Geragos, another trial attorney known to represent celebrities like Michael Jackson and Jussie Smollett — said they would go public with the information unless Nike paid them more than $20 million, according to court documents.
In a second tweet Tuesday, Avenatti posted a CBS Sports article reporting that Nike’s basketball league for elite youth had been served with a subpoena as federal prosecutors investigate potential schemes to funnel money to promising young players to increase the likelihood of apparel contracts if they go pro.
Nike said in a statement Tuesday that it has been cooperating with officials in the NCAA investigation for over a year. Avenatti claimed this was untrue and accused the company of “trying to divert attention from their own crimes.”
Avenatti was released on $300,000 bond after appearing in New York federal court Monday evening and told reporters he expects to be “fully exonerated.” The attorney also faces separate bank and wire fraud charges in Los Angeles.
The latest scandals are not the first hits Avenatti’s reputation has taken since he became a regular presence on the national stage. He was arrested, but not charged, on suspicion of domestic violence in November, and he had public spats with Daniels until the two parted ways earlier this month. His former law firm, Eagan Avenatti, has filed for bankruptcy more than once.
Avenatti has been a fervent critic of Trump throughout his presidency and at one point was a frequent face on cable TV shows, offering combative rhetoric about the White House. While representing Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, he put a spotlight on hush-money payments made during the 2016 presidential campaign and former Trump attorney Michael Cohen’s role in facilitating the exchange.