Lawyer Michael Avenatti Arrested for Alleged $20 Million Extortion Attempt Against Nike

Michael Avenatti, the former lawyer for Stormy Daniels, has been charged by federal prosecutors with extortion and bank and wire fraud.
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Lawyer Michael Avenatti was arrested on federal charges of extortion, wire fraud and bank fraud on Monday. 

Monday's arrest came after Avenatti reportedly tried to extort Nike for $20 million, according to CBS News. The U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York announced the extortion charges, while the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles charged Avenatti with bank and wire fraud. 

Avenatti tweeted on Monday that he was holding a press conference on Tuesday to "disclose a major high school/college basketball scandal perpetrated by [Nike] that we have uncovered." The charges were announced about an hour after sending the tweet.

The complaint alleges Avenatti attempted to extort Nike in exchange for an internal investigator contract that would pay "at a minimum, between $15 and $25 million," according to Steven Portnoy of CBS News Radio. Avennati threatened "to use his ability to garner publicity to inflict substantial financial and reputational harm" on Nike, according to Tom Winter of NBC News.

Avenatti's co-conspirator in the case was reportedly Hollywood lawyer Mark Geragos, according to the Wall Street Journal. Geragos represented Colin Kaepernick in the former QB's collusion suit against the NFL. 

The frequent President Trump critic, who is best known for formerly representing Stormy Daniels, was recorded in phone calls and video of an in-person meeting with Nike on March 21, according to the complaint. Avennatti intended to create an "internal investigation" so Nike could "self-report" misconduct in college basketball's corruption scandal.

Nike released a statement on Avenatti's arrest on Monday afternoon. 

"Nike will not be extorted or hide information that is relevant to a government investigation," the company said. "Nike has been cooperating with the government's investigation into NCAA basketball for over a year. When Nike became aware of this matter, Nike immediately reported it to federal prosecutors. When Mr. Avenatti attempted to extort Nike over this matter, Nike with the assistance of outside counsel at Boies Schiller Flexner, aided the investigation." 

"Nike firmly believes in ethical and fair play, both in business and sports, and will continue to assist prosecutors."

As for the California charges, Avenatti reportedly embezzled a client's money to pay debts and expenses.