Michael Avenatti charged with trying to extort more than $20 million from Nike

The Manhattan US Attorney's office said that it is charging attorney Michael Avenatti "for attempting to extract more than $20 million in payments from a publicly traded company by threatening to use his ability to garner publicity to inflict substantial financial and reputational harm on the company if his demands were not met."

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan on Monday charged lawyer Michael Avenatti with attempting to extort more than $20 million from Nike.

Avenatti was arrested Monday morning in Manhattan, law enforcement officials tell CNN. He will appear in court later Monday.

According to the criminal complaint, Avenatti met in March 2019 with attorney for Nike and threatened to release damaging information about the company if Nike didn’t make millions in payment to himself and an unnamed co-conspirator. Avenatti also allegedly demanded that Nike pay $1.5 million to an individual he claimed to represent.

“I’ll go take $10 billion dollars off your client’s market cap…I’m not f***ing around,” Avenatti said, according to the complaint.

“And I’m not continuing to play games,” he added. “You guys know enough now to know you’ve got a serious problem and it’s worth more in exposure to me to just blow the lid on this thing.”

Federal prosecutors in Los Angeles will also announce separate charges of wire fraud and bank fraud against Avenatti Monday afternoon.

Until recently, Avenatti represented adult-film actress Stormy Daniels, a central figure in the hush-money scandal that resulted in Manhattan federal prosecutors charging President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen. Cohen pleaded guilty and is set to report to prison in May.

Avenatti and Nike did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Earlier Monday, he tweeted: “Tmrw at 11 am ET, we will be holding a press conference to disclose a major high school/college basketball scandal perpetrated by @Nike that we have uncovered. This criminal conduct reaches the highest levels of Nike and involves some of the biggest names in college basketball.”

The Manhattan US Attorney’s office said it would hold a press conference to discuss the charges on Monday afternoon.

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