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Michael Avenatti Arrested, Hit With Multiple Charges

Stormy Daniels' former lawyer charged with extortion, fraud
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 25, 2019 1:00 PM CDT
Attorney Michael Avenatti speaks to reporters at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse in Chicago on Feb. 25, 2019.   (Ashlee Rezin/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)

(Newser) – Stormy Daniels' former lawyer Michael Avenatti was arrested Monday and charged with extortion and bank and wire fraud, say US prosecutors. The high-profile attorney, who has also represented some of R. Kelly's accusers, faces federal charges in New York and California, the AP reports. The New York charges have to do with allegations that he tried to extort up to $25 million from Nike by threatening the company with negative publicity, CNBC reports. In fact, the 48-year-old lawyer was arrested mere minutes after he tweeted, "Tmrw at 11 am ET, we will be holding a press conference to disclose a major high school/college basketball scandal perpetrated by @Nike that we have uncovered. This criminal conduct reaches the highest levels of Nike and involves some of the biggest names in college basketball." Nike has not commented.

In a separate case out of Los Angeles, Avenatti is accused of negotiating a $1.6 million settlement for a client, but then "misappropriating" that money to pay expenses for his coffee business and his own expenses. He is also accused of submitting fraudulent tax returns to a bank in order to get three loans totaling $4.1 million for his law firm and coffee business. (Avenatti's Global Baristas US LLC operated Tully's Coffee stores in California and Washington.) "In reality, Avenatti never filed personal income tax returns for 2011, 2012 and 2013 and did not make any estimated tax payments in 2012 and 2013. Instead of the millions of dollars he claimed to have paid in taxes, Avenatti still owed the IRS $850,438 in unpaid personal income tax plus interest and penalties for the tax years 2009 and 2010," the US Attorney's Office says. Avenatti was arrested in Manhattan, and is due to appear there in federal court Monday. (Read more Michael Avenatti stories.)

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