For many people in Illinois, lawyer Michael Avenatti became a celebrity when he represented adult film star Stormy Daniels in her legal action against President Donald Trump. His representation of Daniels was accompanied by frequent press conferences and TV appearances. However, he is now facing charges after being arrested for extortion on March 25. Avenatti is accused of attempting to extort $25 million from Nike through threats to reveal some form of damaging information about the company. He is also facing separate federal charges, accused of embezzling one client’s money in order to cover his own debts and of defrauding a bank.
Avenatti faces up to 100 years in prison if he is convicted on the white-collar crime charges; he could also be disbarred as a lawyer. According to the records of his arrest in New York, he was accused of seeking a $25 million payout from Nike and threatened to release information that sneaker company officials paid the families of leading high school basketball players. After his arrest, he was released after signing a $300,000 personal recognizance bond. He paid no cash bail; instead, if he fails to show up in court, he would be forced to forfeit this sum of money.
The accused lawyer said that he was not guilty of the charges and that he would be exonerated. He was ordered to turn over his U.S. and Italian passports and forbidden from traveling as a condition of his release. Avenatti is charged alongside another high-profile attorney in the Nike case. He and the other lawyer were forbidden from contacting each other.
Accusations of white-collar crimes can be complex and challenging to understand, and they may address conduct that fits into a gray area of the law. Someone facing an investigation or arrest for white-collar charges can work with a criminal defense attorney to challenge police assertions and present a strong defense.