Attorney Michael Avenatti, who rose to fame while representing adult film star Stormy Daniels against President Donald Trump, was indicted today on extortion charges, the States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York announced, stemming from his March arrest for allegedly attempting to extort $22.5 million from Nike.
The statement alleges that Avenatti threatened “to use his ability to garner publicity to inflict substantial financial and reputational harm on the company if his demands were not met.”
Additionally, New York federal prosecutors also charged Avenatti with defrauding a client during negotiations for a book deal. Though the client is not named in the indictment, numerous news outlets are reporting that Daniels is the mentioned party.
On Tuesday, Avenatti defended himself on Twitter, claiming that the allegations against him are “bogus.”
“I expect an indictment to issue from SDNY in the next 48 hrs charging me in connection with my arrest in March. I intend on fighting these bogus/legally baseless allegations, and will plead not guilty to ALL CHARGES. I look forward to the trial where I can begin to clear my name,” Avenatti wrote on Twitter. “The indictment is the formal charging document that usually follows a criminal complaint, which is what was issued in connection with my arrest.”
In March, Avenatti was arrested 15 minutes after he tweeted that he planned to reveal a basketball bribery scandal. He was charged by federal prosecutors with four counts related to accusations that he plotted to extort $22.5 million from Nike by threatening to disclose evidence of employee misconduct ahead of its third-quarter report.
In the days following his arrest, Avenatti denied the allegations with TMZ.
“It’s an absolute joke,” Avenatti said in the video shared Thursday by the tabloid news site. “We didn’t try to extort anybody. Did we engage in tough negotiations? Absolutely. But we made it clear to Nike from the get-go — from the very first communications that we had with Nike — that we would not allow them to cover this up and continue the charade and corruption and parade of lies that they have perpetrated on college sports for years.”
Since his first tweets concerning Nike in March, Avenatti revealed the names of several high-profile former college hoops stars who allegedly received compensation from the Swoosh, including Deandre Ayton of the Phoenix Suns, 2019 NBA Draft prospect Bol Bol and, most recently, Duke Blue Devils star Zion Williamson.
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