Convicted Extortionist Michael Avenatti Cries in Court As He's Sentenced to 2.5 Years in Prison

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

Karma hit former attorney, Creepy Porn Lawyer, and now convicted extortionist Michael Avenatti square between the eyes Thursday in a Manhattan courtroom when he was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison for attempting to extort up to $22.5 million from Nike. Avenatti’s woes are far from over; he’s set to go to trial on 10 counts (out of a 36-count indictment) of tax fraud starting July 13 in Orange County, California.

Avenatti once bragged that he was never going down, but would go down swinging if he did, and he kept his promise. The 50-year-old was convicted in February 2020 of extortion, transmission of interstate communications with intent to extort, and wire fraud. Here’s a bit of background from the Wall Street Journal:

The case grew out of Mr. Avenatti’s threats to expose purported corruption in Nike’s elite basketball program unless the apparel giant paid him to conduct an internal investigation.

Around February 2019, Mr. Avenatti began representing a youth basketball coach whose elite team had recently lost a sponsorship deal with Nike.

On March 19, 2019, Mr. Avenatti—accompanied by Los Angeles lawyer Mark Geragos —met in New York with two of Nike’s outside lawyers from law firm Boies Schiller Flexner LLP. Mr. Avenatti said his client had evidence that Nike employees had funneled illegal secret payments to the families of top high-school basketball players, according to evidence presented at trial. Mr. Avenatti threatened to expose the payments at a news conference the next day unless Nike paid his client a $1.5 million settlement and hired Messrs. Avenatti and Geragos to conduct an internal investigation, according to evidence at trial.

Mr. Geragos wasn’t charged, and didn’t testify at the trial. His lawyers disputed Mr. Avenatti’s efforts, before the trial, to characterize him as an accomplice.

The coach testified at trial that he didn’t know about Mr. Avenatti’s proposed quid-pro-quo arrangement.

Judging by a pre-trial memo filed by prosecutors in Avenatti’s tax and wire fraud case in California, the coach most likely didn’t know about the quid-pro-quo arrangement. Avenatti’s modus operandi was to deceive his clients to enrich himself, so that testimony is not surprising. A courtroom reporter tweeted portions of the Assistant US Attorney’s argument:

Avenatti’s attorneys proposed a laughable six-month sentence while prosecutors asked for a sentence in line with the probation department’s recommendation of eight years because Avenatti “betrayed his client’s trust and sought to enrich himself by weaponizing his public profile in an attempt to extort a publicly traded company out of tens of millions of dollars.”

Before Avenatti addressed the court, his attorney presented a sob story:

He faced challenges growing up? Welcome to Earth. Anyone who supports Avenatti faces abuse? It seems that his attorney shares his stunning lack of self-awareness or consideration for anyone else. Avenatti dished out abuse to his clients, his lovers, and anyone who criticized him in any way.

Let’s not forget hearing Avenatti in action.

When he addressed the court, it was through tears. Were they crocodile tears? Who knows.

Avenatti prioritized the wrong things and is paying a massive, but justified, price. After his prison term – and any prison term he might be sentenced to after all of the California proceedings are held – he will face at least three years of supervised probation.

Coudn’t happen to a more deserving person. Basta!

 

(P.S. Bonus content, for the heck of it.)