Nike calls for redress from Michael Avenatti for extortion

Michael Avenatti, attorney and founding partner of Eagan Avenatti LP, second from left, leaves federal court in New York, USA on Tuesday, May 28, 2019.

Louis Lanzano | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Nike has asked a federal judge in Manhattan to convict fallen attorney Michael Avenatti to pay more than $ 856,000 in compensation for his botched attempt to extort up to $ 25 million from the giant sportswear company.

The revised filing for reimbursement to Judge Paul Gardephe is significantly less than the $ 1.7 million Nike asked for from Avenatti, the once high-profile attorney who was convicted in court last year for attempting to rock the company.

The lower dollar amount now requested, $ 856,162, was calculated after Nike cut legal fees for Boies Schiller Flexner law firm on several areas of work, as suggested by Gardephe, and after Avenatti objected to these areas being considered.

These included media monitoring, the company’s response to “Mr. Avenatti’s attacks on the company after his arrest,” and charges related to work the nature of which was blacked out in court records, according to a letter from Boies Schiller to Gardephe published Thursday Flexner lawyers Peter Skinner and David Simons.

Prosecutors for the US Attorney’s Office in Manhattan supported Nike’s motion in a separate letter to Judge.

The letter from Nike’s attorneys stated that the company incurred approximately $ 2.7 million in legal fees “as a result of the extortion of Mr. Avenatti.”

Nike is calling for redress, “which is only paid after its individual victims have been paid,” the letter filed a week after Gardephe sentenced the California attorney to 30 months in prison for extortion.

Avenatti has two other federal criminal proceedings pending with several individual victims.

The 50-year-old Avenatti was arrested in 2019 after threatening to go public with allegations by a basketball coach that Nike was corruptly paying amateur players and their families unless the company signed a lucrative consultancy agreement with Avenatti and another lawyer, Mark Geragos.

The bombastic Avenatti warned Nike’s lawyers that by publishing the allegations he could “take $ 10 billion off Nike’s market capitalization.”

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Avenatti was well known to the public at the time through numerous media appearances during his representation of the porn star Stormy Daniels in legal disputes with the then President Donald Trump.

Daniels paid $ 130,000 to Trump’s then personal attorney Michael Cohen prior to the 2016 presidential election to keep silent about claims she once had sex with Trump, who denies her allegations.

Avenatti was convicted in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan on charges related to Nike in February 2020. Geragos was never charged for his involvement in Avenatti’s efforts, a factor that led Gardephe to detain Avenatti for less time than the federal prosecutor’s recommended “substantial” prison sentence.

“I alone have ruined my career, my relationships and my life. And there is no doubt that I have to pay,” Avenatti tearfully told Gardephe before he was convicted.

Earlier this week, Avenatti began selecting the jury for a second trial in federal court in Santa Ana, California, where he will face a number of crimes, including defrauding customers for millions of dollars. One of these clients is a mentally ill paraplegic.

Next year, Avenatti will face a third case in Manhattan federal court for defrauding Daniels of $ 300,000 in proceeds for a book she wrote.

Avenatti, who remains free until the day he was surrendered in prison on September 15, has pleaded not guilty in his remaining criminal proceedings.

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