Disgraced critic of former President Donald Trump and onetime Democratic presidential hopeful Michael Avenatti was sentenced on Thursday to 30 months, or two and a half years, in prison for trying to extort tens of millions of dollars from Nike, Inc. two years ago.
What are the details?
The final sentencing was well below the maximum sentence that Avenatti could have received, which was nine years.
While reading the sentencing, Judge Paul Gardephe of the Southern District of New York said, “Mr. 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 rules that apply to everyone else did not apply to him.”
Avenatti reportedly cried in the courtroom during his concluding speech prior to sentencing.
The ex-lawyer for porn star Stormy Daniels was indicted on wire fraud and extortion charges for attempting to shake down Nike for approximately $20 million by threatening to go public with damaging information about the company.
Shortly before charges were announced in March 2019, Avenatti posted a tweet warning that he would be holding a news conference to expose “criminal conduct [that] reaches the highest levels of Nike and involves some of the biggest names in college basketball.”
Additionally, the FBI recorded Avenatti in March 2019 making similar claims in a call with Nike’s lawyers.
“I’m not f***ing around with this, and I’m not continuing to play games,” he said, according to court documents, adding, “I’ll go take $10 billion off your client’s market cap.”
“While the defendant may have tried to hide behind legal terms and a suit and tie, the jury clearly saw the defendant’s scheme for what it was — an old-fashioned shakedown,” U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said in a statement following Avenatti’s guilty verdict in February 2020.
Avenatti quickly rose to national fame in 2018 for his high-handed representation of Stormy Daniels — real name Stephanie Clifford — a porn star who claims to have had a relationship with former President Trump.
Daniels alleged in a lawsuit that she had been paid $130,000 in hush money by ex-Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen ahead of Trump’s 2016 presidential election victory.
Before long, Avenatti became a left-wing media darling and a regular fixture on networks such as CNN and MSNBC.
According to the Media Research Center, between March 2018 and March 2019, Avenatti appeared on CNN 122 times, on MSNBC 108 times, and on broadcast news networks like ABC, CBS, and NBC a combined 24 times.
Thursday’s sentencing marks the conclusion of one of three criminal trials that the 50-year-old California lawyer is set to undergo.
CNBC reported that next week Avenatti will stand trial on a litany of charges alleging the lawyer defrauded several of his clients — one being a mentally ill paraplegic — out of millions of dollars.
Then, in 2022, Avenatti will be tried a third time on charges related to allegedly cheating Stormy Daniels out of $300,000 she earned in proceeds from a book she wrote.
Daniels, who later fired Avenatti, posted on her Instagram following the lawyer’s conviction, saying, “Sadly, it appears that what Michael Avenatti did to me was just the tip of the iceberg of deceit. I am not surprised his dishonesty has been revealed on a grand scale.”