Michael Avenatti, the lawyer who is representing many women in the high-profile R. Kelly criminal sexual abuse case, was arrested and charged with reportedly attempting to extort millions of dollars out of Nike. He is being charged with wire and bank fraud.
Avenatti was taken into custody in New York, and is alleged to have threatened to cancel a press conference if Nike did not pay a client $1.5 million, in addition to hiring him and a co-conspirator to conduct an internal investigation for a fee of over $10 million. According to the Wall Street Journal, the co-conspirator is celebrity attorney Mark Garagos, who was hired as a member of Jussie Smollett’s legal defense team.
“Before news of his charges, Avenatti posted a tweet saying he would be holding a press conference to disclose a ‘major high school/college basketball scandal’ perpetrated by Nike that he claimed to have uncovered,” Bloomberg News reports. “’This criminal conduct reaches the highest levels of Nike and involves some of the biggest names in college basketball.’”
Prosecutors say that Avenatti, who also represented Stormy Daniels in her high-profile case against Donald Trump, was reportedly working with an “amateur basketball coach” whose team had a contract with Nike.
Earlier this year, Avenatti reportedly received a tape of R. Kelly having sex with a teenage girl, which is reportedly being used as evidence in the musician’s sexual abuse case, which is currently underway in Chicago.