Wednesday was a dark day for celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti who became subject to a new fraud charge by federal prosecutors who are claiming that he lied to his client as part of his alleged effort to extort money out of sportswear giant Nike, according to The DailyMail.
“The prosecutors also dropped two counts of conspiracy against Avenatti from the case, which was first made public in March, according to a superseding indictment filed in federal court in Manhattan,” the DailyMail reported.
Avenatti was charged on Wednesday in Manhattan in federal court with charges of extortion and wire fraud, but two previous charges of conspiracy were dropped.
“I am extremely pleased that the two counts alleging I engaged in a conspiracy against Nike have just been dismissed by Trump’s DOJ,” Avenatti wrote on Twitter, referring to the U.S. Department of Justice under President Donald Trump, the DailyMail reported.
“I expect to be fully exonerated when it is all said and done.”
While the celebrity anti-Trump attorney did not immediately respond to the DailyMail’s request for comment, his earlier defense reportedly hinged on his relationship with President Donald Trump, as he asked a judge in August to throw out an extortion claim against him as relates to his alleged $20 million attempted extortion of Nike, claiming that he’s the victim of negative political attention, and a resulting witch hunt, due to his feud with Trump
“The USAO-SDNY substituted its own personal impressions of Mr. Avenatti, drawn from his aggressive public persona, long feud with President Trump, and brief entanglement with the USAO-SDNY in the Michael Cohen investigation,” Avenatti’s lawyers wrote in his filing, according to The New York Post, referencing the US Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York.
In the filing, Avenatti took a swipe at US Attorney Geoffrey Berman, saying that he is motivated by his loyalty to the president and that the charges against Avenatti are a type of retribution for his representation of adult film actress Stormy Daniels, in her suit against the president.
“While the FBI was conducting its criminal investigation into the illegal payment to Daniels, Mr. Avenatti was President Trump’s chief antagonist in the civil arena and in the court of public opinion,” the motion says according to the Post.
“If Mr. Avenatti were attorney Doe – or Mr. Geragos, for that matter – he would not have been arrested or charged, the document reads. “That USA Berman did not see fit to likewise recuse himself from Mr. Avenatti’s case but, instead, has taken a very active role in it, is circumstantial evidence that he may be considered a ‘stalking horse” for President Trump.”
Avenatti was charged in March with attempting to extort Nike for at least $22.5 million, in the Southern District of New York according to The Examiner, as well as being charged in the Central District of California for fraud and bank fraud.
Written by Savannah Pointer.