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Michael Avenatti Was Arrested & Charged With Multiple Crimes in Multiple States

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Michael Avenatti, the former lawyer for Stormy Daniels who is always yelling at the world about what a great guy he is, was arrested today and charged in two separate federal cases on opposite sides of the country.

Earlier this afternoon, Avenatti tweeted that he would hold a press conference tomorrow regarding “a major high school/college basketball scandal perpetrated by @Nike.” That scandal, he said, “reaches the highest levels of Nike and involves some of the biggest names in college basketball.”

Shortly after that tweet was sent out, Avenatti was arrested and charged by federal prosecutors in Manhattan with trying to extort $ 20 million from Nike.

Soon after that news broke, prosecutors in Los Angeles announced that he was being charged with embezzling a client’s settlement money. He reportedly lied to his client about the amount of money they received and the date they’d get that money, then using that money to pay his own debts while telling his client the settlement hadn’t yet arrived.

As for Nike, the company has been embroiled with a college basketball pay-for-play corruption scandal. Avenatti is accused of threatening to hold a press conference to reveal “allegations of misconduct” against the company. He allegedly threatened to hold the press conference the day before the company’s quarterly earnings call and at the start of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament in order to maximize the damage to Nike’s reputation and financial status.

According to official court documents, Avenatti offered his silence in return for Nike hiring himself and an unnamed client to conduct an “internal investigation” that Nike never asked for, for which they were to be paid a minimum of $ 15 to $ 25 million. (In lieu of that “retainer” fee, Avenatti allegedly offered to accept $ 22.5 million dollars for himself and the client.)

That co-conspirator, by the way, is said to be Mark Geragos, the lawyer who represented Jussie Smollett.

It sure sounds like Avenatti was not just trying to extort millions of dollars out of Nike, but also a boost to his reputation as the lawyer who would be known for conducting a (fake) investigation into a high-profile scandal at a giant corporation.

That all sounds really on-brand for Avenatti. This feels reminiscent of that time he threatened to reveal allegations of sexual misconduct against James Woods. The implication was that Avenatti would use women’s stories of abuse as a weapon if Woods continued to insult him on Twitter, with absolutely no apparent care for the women themselves.

Avenatti seems to be a big fan of weaponizing the illusion of ethics. Which, honestly, wouldn’t be that big of a deal coming from a regular skeezy celebrity lawyer. But Avenatti has worked so hard to brand himself as an ally and a ruthless moral compass. He legitimately thought he would make a good president and he convinced a whole lot of people of that idea as well.

(image: ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

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