Creepy Porn Extortionist
Renowned grifter Michael Avenatti has made quite the living out of gunning for the Trump family, often offering bold predictions of indictments and even garnering support for a Democratic presidential run (lol).
Welp, they can park the campaign bus for a while, because Mikey’s got some ‘splainin to do.
Avenatti was arrested Monday in New York City on charges of trying to extort up to $25 million from Nike by threatening to publicize claims that company employees authorized payments to the families of top high school basketball players.
Avenatti also was separately charged in a second federal case in Los Angeles with embezzling a client’s money “in order to pay his own expenses and debts” and those of his law firm and coffee company, and of “defrauding a bank in Mississippi,” prosecutors said.
He faces almost 100 friggin years in prison if convicted in both cases as well as possible (probable) disbarment as a lawyer.
He was released from Manhattan federal court after a hearing and after signing a $300,000 personal recognizance bond. It’s worth noting that no actual money is posted for such bail, which is important since Michael doesn’t have any. It means he would forfeit property or cash equivalent for the dollar amount of the bond if he fails to appear in court for future hearings.
“For the entirety of my career, I have fought against the powerful — powerful people and powerful corporations,” Avenatti told reporters when he was released. “I will never stop fighting that good fight.”
He said he was confident that when all the evidence is out, “I will be fully exonerated and justice will be done.”
Avenatti was ordered by a judge to surrender his U.S. and Italian passports, and barred from traveling anywhere in the United States other than New York City, Long Island, several counties just north of Manhattan and the Central District of California, aka the Los Angeles area.
At the hearing, where he was represented by a federal public defender (lol), Avenatti was also ordered to have no contact with his alleged co-conspirator, fellow high-profile lawyer Mark Geragos, who is not criminally charged in the case. You may recall Geragos as the lawyer for one Jussie Smollett, though it appears his legal services were never really needed in that case.
The judge also barred Avenatti from transferring more than $5,000 from any account he controls without first getting approval. No hiding money, pal.
To add another dash of absolutely euphoric irony to the equation, Avenatti’s hearing in New York occurred in the same courthouse where Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to criminal charges that included the phony ones relating to the hush-money deal with Mikey’s (former) star client and cash cow, Stormy Daniels.
My, my — how tables turn.
After news of the charges broke, Stormy put her clothes on and found the best WiFi spot in the strip club to tweet about how her relationship with Avenatti had soured over the previous couple months:
“Knowing what I know now about Michael, I’m saddened but not shocked regarding his arrest,” said Stormy.
“I made the decision weeks ago to terminate Michael’s services after discovering that he had dealt with me extremely dishonestly, and I will have my own announcement coming soon,” she added.
Ohhhhh snap. More bad news for sawed-off Bruce Willis.
Prosecutors said Avenatti’s alleged effort to shakedown Nike for millions of dollars kicked off in earnest last Tuesday, and quickly escalated over the next two days as he threatened to hold a press conference accusing the company of being involved in bribing amateur basketball players. God knows, we all know how much he loves press conferences.
Avenatti allegedly timed his threats to coincide with Nike’s quarterly earnings call and the kickoff of the NCAA tournament, providing for maximal impact on the company’s bottom line.
According to the criminal complaint, Avenatti offered to refrain from that press conference “only if Nike made a payment of $1.5 million to a client of Avenatti’s in possession of information damaging to Nike … and agreed to ‘retain’ Avenatti and [the co-conspirator] to conduct an ‘internal investigation’ — an investigation that Nike did not request — for which Avenatti and [the co-conspirator] demanded to be paid, at a minimum, between $15 [million] and $25 million.”
In other words, “Pay us an exorbitant amount of money to conduct a sham investigation or we’ll sink your stock price.”
The complaint says that Avenatti and a cooperating witness spoke by phone with lawyers for Nike “during which Avenatti stated, with respect to his demands for payment of millions of dollars, that if those demands were not met ‘I’ll go take ten billion dollars off your client’s market cap … I’m not f—ing around.”
Then, sure enough, last Thursday Avenatti tweeted a link to a CBS News story from early March about the sentencing of three men, including a former Adidas executive and a former Adidas consultant, who were found guilty of conspiring to defraud the University of Louisville and the University of Kansas by funneling money to basketball recruits to those colleges with the goal of eventually signing the players to Adidas endorsement deals. He included the caption, “Something tells me that we have not reached the end of this scandal. It is likely far far broader than imagined.”
What a brazen little fella.
While everyone is innocent until proven guilty (in theory, anyway), Avenatti may have a hard time defeating this case, as it appears that Nike’s lawyers recorded most of his threats after the initial one was made. I’m not sure what Avenatti thought was going to happen. If nothing else, his experience with the serial secret recorder Michael Cohen should have prepared him for this scenario.
Greed often blinds wisdom.
In the Los Angeles federal case, Avenatti is accused in a 197-page complaint of negotiating a $1.6 million settlement for a client in a civil case, but then giving the client “a bogus settlement agreement with a false payment date of March 10, 2018.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles said “Avenatti misappropriated his client’s settlement money and used it to pay expenses for his coffee business, Global Baristas US LLC, which operated Tully’s Coffee stores in California and Washington state, as well as for his own expenses.”
“When the fake March 2018 deadline passed and the client asked where the money was, Avenatti continued to conceal that the payment had already been received,” according to prosecutors.
Wow. A straight up thief.
U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna said Avenatti defrauded a bank in Mississippi by submitting fake tax returns to get three loans totaling $4.1 million for his law firm and coffee business in 2014.
The tax returns indicated that he had “substantial income even though he had never filed any such returns with the Internal Revenue Service,” the prosecutor’s office said. “The phony returns stated that he earned $4,562,881 in adjusted gross income in 2011, $5,423,099 in 2012, and $4,082,803 in 2013. … Avenatti allegedly also claimed he paid $1.6 million in estimated tax payments to the IRS in 2012 and paid $1.25 million in 2013.”
“In reality, Avenatti never filed personal income tax returns for 2011, 2012 and 2013 and did not make any estimated tax payments in 2012 and 2013,” Hanna’s office said.
“Instead of the millions of dollars he claimed to have paid in taxes, Avenatti still owed the IRS $850,438 in unpaid personal income tax plus interest and penalties for the tax years 2009 and 2010. Avenatti also submitted a fictitious partnership tax return for his law firm,” the investigators said.
Ouch. That evidence seems pretty black and white. It will be interesting to see how Super Midget achieves #TotalExoneration. Then again, there is a good chance he’s an Obama donor, so #LetsSeeWhatHappens.
It’s pretty simple folks. This idiot, much like his political bedfellow Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, mistook Twitter fame for real power, so much so that he thought he could extort one of the most powerful corporations in the world lest he use his massive PR power to bring down their brand.
Poor fella, no one had the heart to tell him that his own brand wasn’t exactly on fire.
Maybe he was trying extortion in order to pay off his tax debts. Maybe he truly thought he could outsmart the best corporate lawyers money could buy. Whatever the reason, the schadenfreude is absolutely exhilarating, and I’ll be watching this karmic episode as long as it lasts, then savoring the sweet memory for years to come.
Trumpers do have much to be thankful for with Avenatti. After all, he did put Bret Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court with his asinine gang rape tales. Then there was that time he screwed up Stormy’s case so bad that she had to pay Trump’s legal bills. I’ll miss times such as those.
As for Avenatti the man, I won’t miss him a bit.