Michael Avenatti Arrested For Fraud … I'll Be 'Fully Exonerated'
6:13 PM PT — Avenatti just held a brief press conference, saying, “I have fought against the powerful — powerful people and powerful corporations — I will never stop fighting that good fight.” He added he’s “highly confident” he’ll be “fully exonerated.”
4:33 PM PT — Avenatti has just been released on a $ 300,000 bond. He didn’t have to pay that amount, but it had to be co-signed by 2 people who say they’re good for it.
While he’s out on bond, his travel will be restricted to New York and California … and all travel plans must be approved by the government. Avenatti is also barred from contacting Mark Geragos.
2:53 PM PT — Avenatti’s indictment will NOT have any major impact on the pending R. Kelly criminal case, in which he reps the family of Azriel Clary … so says Gerald Griggs, who represents Joycelyn Savage‘s family. Griggs tells TMZ … that while Avenatti’s criminal cases present problems for himself personally, Griggs says they’ll have “minimal” effect in the R. Kelly matter. He adds, “[T]he ten charges are based on four independent accusers and other information independent of Mr. Avenatti. The Savage family continues to seek reunification with their daughter, and that process of justice continues on course for all the alleged victims of Robert Sylvester Kelly.”
1:15 PM PT — The Nike indictment says Avenatti had an unnamed co-conspirator, and we’ve confirmed reports it is famed attorney Mark Geragos.
12:08 PM PT — Nike just broke its silence following the news conferences … saying it “will not be extorted or hide information that is relevant to a government investigation. Nike has been cooperating with the government’s investigation into NCAA basketball for over a year.”
The shoe giant goes on to say, “When Nike became aware of this matter, Nike immediately reported it to federal prosecutors. When Mr. Avenatti attempted to extort Nike over this matter, Nike with the assistance of outside counsel at Boies Schiller Flexner, aided the investigation.”
“Nike firmly believes in ethical and fair play, both in business and sports, and will continue to assist the prosecutors.”
If you recognize the law firm — Boies Schiller Flexner — the “Boies” is David Boies, the famous high-powered lawyer who’s represented everyone from Al Gore to Harvey Weinstein.
In fact, Boies was also heavily involved with Theranos — the blood testing company — and was featured in the HBO documentary “The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley.”
11:55 AM PT – The NY Presser just finished up, and prosecutors there had quite a bit to say about Avenatti’s alleged extortion efforts toward Nike.
Prosecutors in NY say the alleged Nike scheme played out over the course of a few days last week. Avenatti repped an AAU coach whose team had just lost a Nike sponsorship worth $ 72k a year. The coach claimed that Nike made payments to families of some high school basketball players, and Avenatti demanded payment from Nike to keep him quiet.
He was arrested Monday at the location where he was supposed to meet with Nike brass, presumably to strike a deal or keep the convo going.
For the record .. the only thing that was coordinated between NY and California was how the bust would go down. That said … these are two separate federal cases.
11:33 AM PT — The L.A. Presser just wrapped, and investigators didn’t pull any punches in condemning Avenatti’s alleged criminal behavior … calling him a “corrupt lawyer” who was only out for his own personal gain.
Among the most damning allegations in Avenatti’s financial case … Avenatti allegedly siphoned off a $ 1.6 million settlement he scored for a client in 2017 and hid it in a personal bank account that he controlled … but never told his client a thing about it. The U.S. Attorney alleges Avenatti used that money to fund his lavish lifestyle and to help pay for his coffee business in California and Washington State. All the while, the client never received a penny.
What’s more … the U.S. Attorney and the IRS also claim Avenatti defrauded a bank for millions of dollars worth of loans by submitting fake tax returns between 2011 and 2013, in which he claimed to have earned around $ 4-$ 5 million a year each year and supposedly paid $ 2.8 million in taxes. The government says all of that was a lie … he didn’t file taxes those years at all.
10:50 AM PT — There will be 2 news conferences … the U.S. Attorney in L.A. will address the wire fraud charges at 11 AM PT, and the U.S. Attorney in New York will address the Nike extortion case at 11:30 AM PT. TMZ will live stream both news conferences.
The DA’s office also prepared a chart with the breakdown of the alleged extortion timeline in NY.
Michael Avenatti has been arrested and charged with trying to extort $ 20 million out of Nike.
The feds claim Avenatti told Nike’s lawyers if they didn’t pay him between $ 15 million and $ 25 million he would hold a news conference on the eve of Nike’s quarterly earnings call and the start of March Madness and announce allegations of misconduct by employees at the shoe company.
According to the complaint, Avenatti demanded Nike hire him to conduct an internal investigation for the enormous salary.
The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York says Avenatti was representing a client who was the coach of an AAU Youth Club basketball team.
Prosecutors say Avenatti gave Nike an option … don’t hire him but pay $ 22.5 million to resolve the dispute and buy his silence.
The complaint says Avenatti claimed the AAU coach had evidence that one or more Nike employees had funded payments to the families of top high school basketball players and attempted to conceal those payments.
According to prosecutors, there was a call on March 20 between Avenatti and Nike during which Avenatti said, “I’m not f**king around with this, and I’m not continuing to play games … you guys know enough now to know you’ve got a serious problem … So if you guys think that you know, we’re gonna negotiate a million five, and you’re gonna hire us to do an internal investigation, but it’s gonna be capped at 3 or 5 or 7 million dollars, like let’s just be done.”
Prosecutors say then Avenatti makes a threat … “I’ll go and I’ll go take 10 billion dollars off your client’s market cap. But I’m not f**king around.”
The U.S. Attorney says the call was recorded and there’s video of a meeting between Avenatti and Nike attorneys on March 21. In that meeting, Avenatti allegedly said, “If [Nike] wants to have one confidential settlement and we’re done, they can buy that for $ 22.5 million and we’re done.”
During that same meeting, prosecutors say Avenatti set a March 25 deadline and said, “If this is not papered on Monday, we are done. I don’t want to hear about somebody on a bike trip. I don’t want to hear that … somebody’s grandmother passed away or … the dog ate my homework, I don’t want to hear — none of it is going to go anywhere unless somebody was killed in a plane crash.”
Avenatti allegedly told Nike he had them by “the balls.”
That’s not the end of it … Avenatti was just arrested for more federal crimes … bank and wire fraud. The U.S. Attorney in the Central District of California claims Avenatti embezzled client money to cover expenses for his coffee corporation which operates Tully’s Coffee stores in CA and Washington.
As for allegations of bank fraud, prosecutors say Avenatti submitted false tax returns to a bank in Mississippi to get $ 4.1 million in loans. To get the loan, Avenatti claimed he had paid nearly $ 3 million in federal taxes in 2012 and 2013. Prosecutors say, in fact, Avenatti paid zero and still owed $ 850,438.
We reached out to Avenatti, but we could not get through.
Originally Published — 10:23 AM PT