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Avenatti headed to prison, sentenced to 2.5 years in Nike extortion case

Jul 08, 2021


Notorious California lawyer Michael Avenatti was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison Thursday for trying to extort up to $25 million from Nike. The video above shows Avenatti leaving the courthouse in New York City Thursday afternoon, and includes a statement from his lawyer, Danya Perry.

Avenatti was convicted last year for attempted extortion and honest services fraud. The conviction was related to a lawsuit involving a Los Angeles youth basketball league organizer who was upset that Nike had ended its league sponsorship. Avenatti threatened Nike with bad publicity if they didn’t give him the $25 million.

U.S. District Judge Paul G. Gardephe said Avenatti “hijacked his client’s claims, and he used those claims to further his own agenda, which was to extort millions of dollars from Nike for himself.”

Prosecutors requested a “very substantial” sentence, citing the U.S. Probation Department’s recommendation of an eight-year prison term. Avenatti’s lawyers said six months in prison and a year of home detention was enough punishment.

“Michael, and we all are gratified, pleased that the judge recognized today that the draconian sentence that was recommended by probation and that was requested by the government was not appropriate under the circumstances of this case,” Perry said.

Avenatti has several more legal battles ahead of him. He has a trial that begins next week in the Los Angeles area, a second California criminal trial later this year and a separate trial next year in Manhattan.

Avenatti is best known for representing Stormy Daniels in her lawsuits against former President Donald Trump back in 2018. Daniels claimed an affair with Trump resulted in her being paid $130,000 by Trump’s personal lawyer in 2016 to stay silent. Trump denied the affair.

In court Thursday, Judge Gardephe said Avenatti “had become drunk on the power of his platform, or what he perceived the power of his platform to be. He had become someone who operated as if the laws and the rules that applied to everyone else didn’t apply to him.’

Before the judge spoke, Avenatti delivered emotional remarks, sometimes through tears.

“Your honor, I’ve learned that all the fame, notoriety and money in the world is meaningless,” Avenatti said. “TV and Twitter, your honor, mean nothing.”

“It’s been a pleasure to get to know a new Michael Avenatti,” Perry said. “He is deeply humbled as a result of this experience and he is excited to start the next part of his life. And we’ll see where that leads.”

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