Federal prosecutors want a “very substantial” prison sentence for disgraced lawyer Michael Avenatti after he allegedly tried to extort Nike for millions of dollars.
Prosecutors asked a Manhattan federal court judge on Wednesday to impose an eight-year prison term on Avenatti, citing his high-profile and how he attempted to use his public image to bully the sportswear company, according to the Associated Press.
“The defendant, a prominent attorney and media personality with a large public following, betrayed his client and sought to enrich himself by weaponizing his public profile in an attempt to extort a publicly traded company out of tens of millions of dollars. This was an egregious abuse of trust, and it warrants real and serious punishment,” the prosecutors wrote.
Avenatti gained national attention representing porn star Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, in her defamation case against former President Donald Trump. During his involvement in the high-profile case, Avenatti made numerous media appearances boosting his figure to the public.
Last week, Avenatti’s legal team asked the judge for lenience in the case, saying that Avenatti had been publicly humiliated enough already.
“Avenatti’s epic fall and public shaming has played out in front of the entire world. The Court may take judicial notice of this fact, as Avenatti’s cataclysmic fall has been well-documented. He is openly mocked by the former President of the United States and his preferred media outlets, to the glee of millions of the former President’s followers and supporters,” the attorneys wrote.
“He cannot go anywhere in public without inducing and subjecting himself to vitriolic comments and abuse. These circumstances alone would deter anyone in Avenatti’s shoes from engaging in similar conduct,” they said.
Avenatti had reportedly threatened to accuse Nike of scandal unless the company paid him $20 million. As The Daily Wire reported:
In New York, Avenatti was charged with attempting to extort Nike. Avenatti was found guilty for telling Nike attorneys that he would “take 10 billion dollars off your client’s market cap” if they didn’t pay him and a client $20 million. Avenatti threatened to hold a press conference to publicly accuse Nike of a scandal involving high school and college basketball teams. On March 25, 2019, Avenatti announced he would hold the press conference the following day. That same day, the Southern District of New York announced charges against the attorney for extortion.
Avenatti was found guilty in February 2020.
Avenatti is still facing a slew of legal troubles in two more cases. One scheduled to take place in Los Angeles later this year is over a host of fraud charges. Another case slated for next year will cover allegations that he defrauded his former client Daniels. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
In the case to take place in California, Avenatti has been indicted on 36 counts of embezzlement, fraud, perjury, and other crimes. The dozens of charges focus on four areas of criminal conduct: embezzlement, failure to file and pay income taxes, fraudulent loan applications, and concealing assets from a bankruptcy court, The Daily Wire reported.
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