Michael Avenatti Found Guilty of Attempting to Extort Nike

A Manhattan jury finds lawyer Michael Avenatti guilty of attempting to extort millions of dollars from Nike.
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A Manhattan jury found lawyer Michael Avenatti guilty of attempting to extort millions of dollars from Nike (NKE) - Get Report.

Avenatti attempted to extort Nike by threatening to publicly accuse company employees of tampering with amateur athletes unless the company agreed to pay him $25 million.

Avenatti was found guilty on charges of attempted extortion, honest services wire fraud and transmission of interstate communications with intent to extort.

Avenatti rose to fame as a vocal critic of President Donald Trump and represented porn star Stormy Daniels who sued the president. Avenatti even intimated he was considering a run for president.

He was hired by Gary Franklin, a youth basketball team coach, who claimed that Nike executives bullied him into making illicit payments to premier high school basketball players and their families in order to steer them toward Nike-sponsored colleges.

Prosecutors said that Avenatti threatened to hold a press conference claiming that Nike illegally paid players if the company didn't pay Franklin $1.5 million and pay Avenatti and another attorney $12 million, and guarantee between $15 million and $25 million in payments for an internal investigation.

Prosecutors also presented audio, recorded by a Nike lawyer, that shows Avenatti threatening to take billions of dollars off of the company's market cap if they didn't agree to his terms. 

Avenatti’s defense team claimed the lawyer was simply playing hardball with Nike and that his conduct didn't rise the to the level of being criminal.

The lawyer could be facing a lengthy sentence, up to 42 years according to some reports. 

Nike shares were down 0.1% to $103.27 in Friday afternoon trading.