Earlier this morning, celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti who was best known for representing Stormy Daniels and was most recently involved with the indictment of R. Kelly, was reportedly arrested and charged with trying to extort more than $20 million from Nike.
According to TMZ, Avenatti spoke and met with Nike's attorneys earlier this month, where he allegedly threatened to release damaging information about the company if Nike didn't make millions in payments to himself and an unnamed co-conspirator. Additionally, Avenatti also reportedly demanded that Nike pay $1.5 million to an individual that he claimed to represent.
The feds are claiming that Avenatti told Nike's lawyers that if they didn't pay him between $15 and $25 million he would hold a news conference and announce allegations of misconduct by employees at the company, while demanding that they hire him to conduct an internal investigation for the enormous salary. Otherwise, they simply had to pay him to buy his silence.
In one recorded phone call from March 20th, Avenatti can be heard saying: "I'm not f******* around with this, and I'm not continuing to play games, you guys know enough now to know you've got a serious problem, so if you guys think that you know, we're gonna negotiate a million five, and you're gonna hire us to do an internal investigation, but it's gonna be capped at 3 or 5 or 7 million dollars, like let's just be done." He then added "I'll go and I'll take 10 billion dollars off your client's market cap. But I'm not f****** around."
The following day, Avenatti met with Nike's lawyers in person, where in a recorded video he could be heard demanding $22.5 million for a confidential settlement. During that meeting, Avenatti set a March 25th deadline while claiming that he had Nike "by the balls," adding that "If this is not papered on Monday, we are done. I don't want to hear about somebody on a bike trip. I don't want to hear that somebody's grandmother passed away or the dog ate my homework, I don't want to hear -- none of it is going to go anywhere unless somebody was killed in a plane crash."
As if that wasn't enough, Avenatti was also arrested for additional federal crimes involving bank and wire fraud, as the U.S. Attorney in the Central District of California claims that he embezzled client money to cover expenses for his coffee corporation that operates in CA and Washington. Additionally, it's been alleged that Avenatti submitted false tax returns to a bank in Mississippi to get $4.1 million in loans.
Thus far there's been no statement made by Avenatti, and we'll update this story as it continues to unfold.