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Michael Avenatti Found Guilty

Disgraced lawyer convicted of trying to extort Nike, faces long jail sentence
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 14, 2020 2:41 PM CST
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California attorney Michael Avenatti, shown in December, was convicted after a three-week trial.   (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
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(Newser) – Michael Avenatti, the combative lawyer who gained fame by representing a porn star in lawsuits involving President Trump, was convicted Friday of trying to extort Nike, per the AP. The verdict was returned Friday by a federal jury in Manhattan following a three-week trial in which prosecutors said Avenatti threatened to use his media access to hurt Nike's reputation and stock price unless the company paid him up to $25 million. The convictions for attempted extortion and honest services fraud carry a combined potential penalty of 42 years in prison. Avenatti glared at the jurors as the verdict was being read but said nothing. Afterward, he shook hands with his lawyers and told them “great job," before he was led back to the cell where he has been held since a judge found he had violated his bail conditions.

His lawyer, Scott Srebnick, declined to comment but said he would appeal the conviction. The judge set sentencing for June. Avenatti, 48, became a cable news fixture in 2018 and 2019 as journalists courted him for information about porn star Stormy Daniels and her claims of a Trump tryst before he became president, and a payoff to remain silent about it. At his peak of notoriety, Avenatti used Twitter and TV appearances to relentlessly criticize Trump and even considered running for president himself. But Avenatti's fall was swift. He was arrested as he was about to meet Nike lawyers last March to press his demands for millions of dollars to conduct an internal probe of the apparel maker. Avenatti also faces an April trial in New York on charges that he defrauded Daniels of book proceeds and a May trial in Los Angeles on charges that he defrauded other clients.

(Read more Michael Avenatti stories.)

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