WASHINGTON – Michael Avenatti, the high-profile lawyer who formerly represented Stormy Daniels in her case against President Donald Trump, was charged Monday by federal prosecutors in New York with conspiracy to extort shoemaker Nike, according to court documents.
Avenatti was arrested Monday in New York, according to a law enforcement official who was not authorized to speak publicly.
Prosecutors alleged that Avenatti orchestrated “a multi-million extortion scheme,” according to the 11-page complaint filed in the Southern District of New York.
They charged that Avenatti contacted Nike and said he would announce allegations of misconduct by its employees if the company didn’t pay $1.5 million to one of his clients, according to the documents. Avenatti also sought to be hired to conduct an internal investigation of the company for $15 million to $25 million, they said.
Avenatti said he was representing an unnamed Amateur Athletic Union basketball coach who had evidence that Nike had made payments of families of several high-school basketball players, according to the court documents. He threatened to reveal that information publicly, which he said would hurt Nike’s market value. The threat came before a Nike quarterly earnings call March 21, according to the documents.
“You guys know enough know 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,” Avenatti told Nike, according to a transcript in the court records of the profanity-laced call March 20. “A few million dollars doesn’t move the needle for me.”
Avenatti had scheduled a meeting with Nike’s lawyers on Monday to give them a final opportunity to meet his demands, prosecutors said. He was arrested outside the lawyer’s office.
The complaint includes four counts of extortion, conspiracy and interstate communications to commit extortion.
Neither Nike nor Avenatti replied immediately to requests to comment.
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