Friday, October 23, 2020

Michael Avenatti pleads not guilty to extortion charges


Michael Avenatti pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to an indictment accusing him of trying to extort as much as $25 million from Nike Inc (NKE.N) by threatening to go public with claims the company made improper payments to athletes.

Clasping his hands behind his back, the celebrity lawyer, who gained fame representing porn actress Stormy Daniels in a lawsuit against U.S. President Donald Trump, said “not guilty” after U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe read each of the three counts against him in Manhattan federal court.

Avenatti declined to comment after the hearing.

Prosecutors have accused Avenatti, 48, of demanding money from Nike in exchange for agreeing to scrap a threatened news conference to discuss the athletic wear company’s alleged improper payments to elite college basketball recruits.

- Advertisement -

A trial is scheduled for Jan. 21, 2020, and could last the rest of January. Nike has denied wrongdoing.

Since his March 25 arrest in the Nike case, Avenatti has defended himself against a variety of criminal charges.

Avenatti has pleaded not guilty in Manhattan to stealing about $300,000 from Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, after helping her secure a book contract.

He has also pleaded not guilty in California to wire fraud, bank fraud and other crimes, including stealing from clients.

- Advertisement -

The amended Nike indictment dropped two conspiracy counts but added a charge of honest services fraud.

Prosecutors said Avenatti failed to reveal that Nike had offered to settle with his client, youth basketball coach Gary Franklin, so long as the Beaverton, Oregon-based company did not have to pay Avenatti himself.

At Tuesday’s hearing, Avenatti’s lawyer, Scott Srebnick, said that charge should be dismissed, citing a 2010 Supreme Court decision involving former Enron Corp Chief Executive Jeffrey Skilling limiting the claim to bribery and kickback cases.

“The government’s whole theory was that Avenatti was shaking down Nike,” but its case has “morphed” into alleged bribery solicitation, Srebnick said. “It’s hard to know from this indictment exactly what this bribery scheme was.”

Gardephe did not rule on the motion.

The judge also said he was “inclined” to let an expert witness testify for the prosecution about legal ethics rules, though not whether Avenatti violated them.

Prospective jurors are expected to receive questionnaires in advance about the case.

“Given how much press there has been about Mr. Avenatti, it seems obvious to me that a questionnaire is necessary,” he said.

The case is U.S. v. Avenatti, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 19-cr-00373.

Source: Reuters


Goldman Sachs agrees $3 billion settlement with US DoJ over 1MDB corruption scandal

Goldman Sachs has agreed to pay nearly $3bn (£2.3bn) in the US to end a probe of its role in Malaysia's 1MDB corruption scandal. The...

Hong Kong fines Goldman Sachs $350 million over 1MDB scandal

Goldman Sachs ignored multiple red flags over the multibillion-dollar fundraisings it arranged for state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad, Hong Kong’s financial regulator said on...

Texas attorney general Ken Paxton fires top aide who accused him of bribery

Lacey Mase, one of the top aides who accused Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton of crimes including bribery and abuse of office, has been fired, she told The...

Fundraiser Elliott Broidy pleads guilty in foreign agent case linked to 1MDB

Major Republican Party and Trump fundraiser Elliott Broidy pleaded guilty Tuesday to acting as an unregistered foreign agent, admitting to accepting millions...

Germany issues international arrest warrant for founders of law firm at the centre of Panama Papers

Germany has issued international arrest warrants for the two founders of the firm at the centre of the tax haven scandal exposed by the...

Latest News

This Week

Berkshire Hathaway to pay $4.1m to settle Iran sanctions violation

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. has agreed to pay roughly $4.1 million to settle allegations that a Turkish subsidiary violated U.S. sanctions on Iran. The U.S. Treasury Department on...

Australian court approves $920 million Westpac money laundering fine

The Federal Court of Australia has agreed on the deal struck between the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) and Westpac, ordering the Australian...

Billionaire Robert Smith admits to evading taxes for 15 years

Billionaire Robert Smith has been hailed as a brilliant investor who built Vista Equity Partners into a private equity powerhouse and a generous philanthropist...

Rapper Nuke Bizzle charged with COVID-19 relief aid fraud after bragging in music video

A rapper who bragged about defrauding the government’s unemployment program in a music video has been arrested on federal charges of carrying out the...

Adblock Detected!

Our website is made possible by displaying online advertisements to our visitors. Please consider supporting us by whitelisting our website.

Enable Notifications    Ok No thanks