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Supreme Court Leaves Avenatti's Conviction in Place for Plotting to Extort $25M From Nike
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By Associated Press
Published 2 weeks ago on
May 28, 2024

The Supreme Court has left in place lawyer Michael Avenatti’s conviction for plotting to extort up to $25 million from Nike. (AP/Jae C. Hong)

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WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Tuesday left in place lawyer Michael Avenatti’s conviction for plotting to extort up to $25 million from Nike.

The justices did not comment in rejecting an appeal from Avenatti, who rose to fame representing porn actor Stormy Daniels in litigation against former President Donald Trump. The timing of the court’s action, while Trump is on trial in New York over a hush money payment to Daniels, is coincidental.

Avenatti’s Involvement with Nike

Avenatti’s involvement with Nike stems from a whistleblower’s allegations that the athletic footwear and clothing company was paying amateur basketball players.

Avenatti’s lawyers argued that the fraud statute under which he was convicted is unconstitutionally vague. They also contended that Avenatti cannot be criminally charged with plotting to extort money from Nike because he was engaged in settlement negotiations.

The conviction and sentence had been upheld by the federal appeals court in New York.

Appeal Rejected by 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Avenatti’s claim that there was insufficient evidence to support his February 2020 conviction on charges of extortion and honest-services fraud for threatening to smear Nike in the media if he didn’t get paid.

Avenatti, who was based in California, had been sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison in the Nike case. He also has been convicted of stealing book proceeds from Daniels and was sentenced to 14 years in prison for stealing settlement funds from clients and failing to pay taxes for a coffee chain he owned.

He’s scheduled to be released from prison in 2035, according to the Bureau of Prisons.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s Non-Participation

Justice Brett Kavanaugh did not take part in the court’s action Tuesday. Avenatti represented Julie Swetnick, one of the women who publicly accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct when he was nominated to the court in 2018. Kavanaugh denied the allegations.

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