Manhattan, NY – Celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti is facing federal charges for allegedly trying to blackmail Nike out of $20 million prosecutors said.
The Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office announced the pending extortion charges on Monday, CNN reported.
Federal prosecutors in Los Angeles are also expected to file bank fraud and wire fraud against Avenatti on Monday, according to CNN.
He was arrested in Manhattan on Monday morning.
According to court documents, Avenatti met with Nike’s attorney on March 19, and “threatened to release damaging information regarding Nike if Nike did not agree to make multi-million dollar payments” to himself and others.
Avenatti claimed he had evidence that Nike employees "had authorized and funded payments to the families of top high school basketball players and/or their families and attempted to conceal the payments,” according to the criminal complaint.
The following day, he followed his threat up with a phone call to the company’s attorneys, and told that if his demands were not met, he would “go take ten billion dollars off your client’s market cap,” court documents read.
“I’m not f--king around with this” he added, according to court documents. "And I'm not continuing to play games. You guys know enough now to know you've got a serious problem and it's worth more in exposure to me to just blow the lid on this thing."
Avenatti also demanded that the company pay $1.5 million to one of his clients whose contract the company didn’t renew.
About an hour prior to the charges against him being announced, Avenatti tweeted that he plans to hold a press conference on Tuesday to “disclose a major high school/college basketball scandal perpetrated by @nike that we have uncovered.”
“This criminal conduct reaches the highest levels of Nike and involves some of the biggest names in college basketball,” the attorney added.
Avenatti represented porn star Story Daniels in her now-dismissed lawsuit against President Donald Trump and his former attorney, Michael Cohen, CNBC reported.
Daniels was ultimately ordered to pay President Trump $293,000 in legal fees.