Michael Avenatti was sentenced today in New York to 2 1/2 years in prison for trying to extort more than $20 million from Nike Inc.
Last February, the embattled lawyer was found guilty on all charges related to the plot.
Avenatti, who rose to fame representing adult film star Stormy Daniels in a suit against President Donald Trump, faced three counts related to what prosecutors said was on extortion attempt: intent to extort; violation of the Hobbs Act, which criminalizes extortion; and honest service wire fraud. The celebrity lawyer had pleaded not guilty to all charges.
With his conviction, Avenatti faced the possibility of more than 40 years in prison.
“The verdict speaks volumes,” Nike said in a statement last year. “We thank the jurors for their time and service which is the bedrock of the American judicial system.”
In March 2019, Avenatti was arrested 15 minutes after he tweeted that he planned to reveal a basketball bribery scandal amid the annual March Madness tournament. Prosecutors initially charged him with four counts related to accusations that he plotted to siphon millions of dollars from the Swoosh by threatening to disclose evidence of misconduct on the part of Nike executives, ahead of the company’s third-quarter report. He alleged that Nike made illicit payments to elite student athletes, among them No. 1 overall NBA Draft pick Zion Williamson.
An amended indictment filed in mid-November removed two conspiracy counts but added the charge for honest services wire fraud, accusing Avenatti of lying to one of his clients as part of the extortion attempt.