Avenatti Charged With Extortion Over Unusual Demand

By George Khoury, Esq. on April 01, 2019 | Last updated on April 05, 2019

Whether you love, hate, or love to hate, Michael Avenatti, the latest legal drama surrounding the celebrity-lawyer (or maybe lawyer-celebrity?) involves criminal charges for wire/bank fraud, and extortion stemming from an unusual demand the lawyer made of Nike.

However, with what’s currently known, it sounds like there could be even more legal drama to follow, as is the usual way for Avenatti, who seems to be a lightning rod for media attention.

Unusual Demand Gone Awry

Notably, the fraud and extortion charges are from separate jurisdictions.

The New York charges involve alleged extortion of Nike. Prior to the New York charges being announced, Avenatti Tweeted out that he planned to hold a press conference to announce one of the biggest college basketball scandals ever, and that it involved Nike, and Nike’s high-level decision makers.

Interestingly, in the charging document, it is specifically alleged that Avenatti demanded payment of over $20 million to outright settle the matter, or alternatively, hiring him and another individual (unnamed and labeled as a co-conspirator in the charging document) to conduct an internal investigation for the company for a cost of $15 to $25 million. Curiously, the charging document also quotes Avenatti telling Nike that he is “not f***ing around.” It seems now the whole world is waiting to hear what Avenatti has on Nike and college basketball.

Good With Social Media, Bad With Money

The recently unsealed charges out of California seem to be bit more legit than charges out of New York, which are a bit more of a head-scratcher. The Central District of California federal complaint alleges Avenatti failed to pay payroll taxes for Global Barristas, which was the company he founded to buy the failing coffee chain Tully’s.

Additionally, the federal charges out of California also allege that the attorney commingled funds, and straight-up failed to pay clients and employees monies they were owed. And what’s even more embarrassing for Avenatti is the fact that his spending habits were revealed to the world:

  • $70k in watches;
  • $220k at Neiman Marcus;
  • $270k for two Porsches;
  • $40 to lease a Ferrari; and
  • Over a couple million in home improvements, rent and residential purchases.

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