The creepy porn lawyer, to borrow a phrase from Tucker Carlson, faces one criminal charge of extortion and two criminal charges of wire fraud relating to his scheme to extort $25 million in hush money payments from the Nike Corporation. New court papers filed on Tuesday reveal that Michael Avenatti was in debt more than $15 million when he attempted to extort millions from the sportswear giant, according to a report by the Associated Press. The disgraced lawyer faces other criminal charges relating to his alleged defrauding of his former client, porn star Stormy Daniels, as well as other charges that he defrauded past clients out of millions of dollars.
(Via the Associated Press)
In their submission, federal prosecutors said they plan to show the jury that Avenatti owed “conservatively, in excess of $15 million.” Those debts were owed to former clients, one of more former law partners, both of his former spouses for child and spousal support in arrears and a lawyer the government has identified only as “Attorney-1,” they said.
Avenatti told The Associated Press on Wednesday that “any claim that I was $15 million in debt is ridiculous, absurd and laughable.”
“I look forward to the upcoming trial at which time I will be exonerated and the truth will be known,” he said.
Prosecutors, however, say they plan to prove the debts through documents and testimony from a witness who helped Avenatti manage his finances and a law enforcement witness.
The evidence will prove “that he had extraordinary indebtedness, and thus the need and motive to quickly generate substantial sums of money at the time when he engaged in the charged conduct,” prosecutors wrote.
They said the debts were relevant at trial to expose Avenatti’s motives, particularly because he has asserted that his motives were “benign or even altruistic.”
An indictment filed in November alleges that Michael Avenatti threatened to hold a damaging press conference on the eve of Nike's quarterly earnings report and the start of the NCAA's men's college basketball tournament unless Nike agreed to pay Avenatti around $25 million in payments. Avenatti said that he was representing a youth basketball coach who had evidence that Nike employees had concealed unauthorized payments to families of top high school basketball players. The U.S. Attorney's Office had recently opened a criminal investigation into a competitor of Nike's for similarly concealing payments to families of high school athletes.
Avenatti represented porn star Stormy Daniels, who claimed to have had an affair with Donald Trump before he became president. Daniels hired Avenatti to represent her in her defamation suit against the president. Daniels lost that suit and was ordered to pay the president's attorney fees. Federal prosecutors claim Avenatti diverted around $300,000 that Daniels was supposed to receive as a part of a book deal and that Avenatti used her money for his own business and personal expenses.
The opportunistic lawyer also represented bogus Kavanaugh accuser Julie Swetnick in her gang-rape allegation against Brett Kavanaugh during the Supreme Court justice's Senate confirmation hearing.