Supreme Court rejects lawyer Michael Avenatti’s appeal in Nike fraud case

Must read

Attorney Michael Avenatti exits, following his sentencing for an extortion scheme against Nike Inc., at the United States Courthouse in New York City, July 8, 2021.

Brendan McDermid | Reuters

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected disgraced lawyer Michael Avenatti’s appeal over his criminal convictions for attempting to extort sportswear company Nike.

The court left in place Avenatti’s extortion and fraud convictions.

In the brief court order, the court noted that conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh did not participate in the decision.

There was no explanation, but one possible reason is that Avenatti was also involved in Kavanaugh’s contentious confirmation hearing, representing one of several women who made claims of sexual misconduct dating back decades against the nominee. Kavanaugh denied all the allegations.

Avenatti was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison for the Nike extortion plot. He apologized at sentencing, saying he was “deeply humbled.”

The case arose in 2019 when Avenatti was representing a youth basketball coach in Los Angeles who alleged that Nike made unlawful payments to high school athletes. Around the same time, Avenatti faced millions of dollars of judgments and his law firm had been evicted from its office.

During talks with Nike lawyers, Avenatti pressured the company not just to pay his client but also to hire him and another lawyer to carry out an internal company investigation into the matter. If it did not, he would go public with the allegations, he is alleged to have said.

Avenatti was charged with two extortion-related counts and one charge of fraud under a federal law that targets illegal kickbacks by requiring people to provide “honest services.” A jury found him guilty on all three counts.

An appeals court upheld the convictions.

The Supreme Court has expressed skepticism about the scope of the honest services fraud statute in previous cases, including a ruling last year when it threw out the conviction of an aide to former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Avenatti has regularly attracted headlines over the years. One of his former clients was adult movie star Stormy Daniels, whom he represented in her attempt to nullify a nondisclosure agreement she had signed over her alleged sexual encounter with former President Donald Trump.

Trump is currently on trial on allegations he violated New York law in making so-called “hush money” payments to Daniels.

The Nike case is not the only legal trouble Avenatti has found himself in. He was sentenced to 14 years in prison for cheating clients out of millions of dollars and to four years in prison for stealing money from Daniels. Avenatti is currently incarcerated at a federal prison in California, with a scheduled release date of August 2035.

More articles

Latest article