In a strange turn of events for the lawyer-turned-celebrity-TV-lawyer, Michael Avenatti, life is truly getting more and more like a Hollywood script. The larger-than-life lawyer is now facing federal criminal charges of funding that large-life based on fraud, and extortion.
The charges were announced the day after Avenatti Tweeted out his own announcement that he would hold a press conference to drop a bombshell relating to a scandal involving Nike and college football. But before Avenatti’s Tuesday conference, he was arrested and charged in New York on Monday, with the federal charges from California getting revealed just a few hours after his arrest.
In the case against Avenatti alleging he attempted to extort Nike for over $20 million, there are clearly some factual gaps in what is currently public knowledge. Basically, what is known is that Avenatti and a currently unknown client had uncovered information about an earth-shattering scandal involving both Nike and student athletes in both high school and college.
To settle the claims, Avenatti demanded over $20 million for his client, or alternatively, for he and an associate to be placed in charge of a Nike internal investigation relating to the scandal, at the cost of $15 to $25 million. Avenatti threatened the company that if they refused, he would go public with the information, which, he claimed, would take $10 billion off the company’s marketcap.
While the New York charges aren’t a good sign for Avenatti, the unsealed criminal charges filed in California are even worse. The lawyer is alleged to have committed fraud relating to his taxes, managing Tully’s coffee, and securing loans. Additionally, it is further alleged that he commingled funds, which is a big no-no for lawyers.
Perhaps most notably, in the very-very-long charging document, it lists several of the ways Avenatti spent his fortune, including $220k at Neiman Marcus, $70k in watches, nearly $300k to buy two Porsches and lease a Ferrari, and millions on residences and residential improvements.