Michael Avenatti, the lawyer who once represented Stormy Daniels in lawsuits against President Donald Trump, has been sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison for trying to extort up to 25 million dollars from Nike by threatening the company with bad publicity.
Avenatti, 50, was convicted last year of charges including attempted extortion and honest services fraud in connection with his representation of a Los Angeles youth basketball league organiser who was upset that Nike had ended its league sponsorship.
US District Judge Paul G Gardephe called Avenatti’s conduct “outrageous,” saying he “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”.
Avenatti, the judge added, “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.”
Criminal fraud charges on two coasts disrupted Avenatti’s rapid ascent to fame. He also faces the start of a fraud trial next week in the Los Angeles area, a second California criminal trial later this year and a separate trial next year in Manhattan, where he is charged with cheating Daniels out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Avenatti represented Ms Daniels in 2018 in lawsuits against Mr Trump, appearing often on cable news programmes to disparage the Republican president.
Avenatti explored running against Mr Trump in 2020, boasting that he would “have no problem raising money.”
Ms Daniels said a tryst with Mr Trump a decade earlier resulted in her being paid 130,000 dollars by Mr Trump’s personal lawyer in 2016 to stay silent. The ex-president denied the affair.