An attorney representing several parties connected to the R. Kelly case has himself been arrested.
Michael Avenatti, who came to national fame representing adult film star Stormy Daniels in a lawsuit against President Trump, has been arrested on federal charges for trying to extort up to $25 million from sports apparel company Nike.
“As alleged, Michael Avenatti approached Nike last week with a list of financial demands in exchange for covering up allegations of misconduct on behalf of the company,” FBI Assistant Director in Charge William Sweeney Jr. said in a statement. “The lofty price tag included a $1.5 million payoff for Avenatti’s client and upwards of tens of millions of dollars for the legal services of his firm – services Nike never requested. This is nothing more than a straightforward case of extortion”
The counts against Avenatti in the Nike case are extortion, transmission of interstate communications with intent to extort, conspiracy to transmit interstate communications with intent to extort, and conspiracy to commit extortion. He faces up to 47 years in prison if convicted on all charges.
He also was charged with wire fraud and bank fraud in a separate case in California related to swiping client funds, tax evasion and using fake tax returns to obtain bank loans.
“Avenatti was instrumental in the [R. Kelly] case’s beginnings,” Esquire Magazine said. “Since last year, Avenatti’s clients retained his services, offering damning evidence against Kelly, including a sex tape. Avenatti handed that tape over to police late in February, according to CNN. Avenatti then tweeted out a statement, describing the situation and the contents of the tape.”
In addition to the R. Kelly and Stormy Daniels cases, he also recently represented two of the women in the news cycle of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings who accused Kavanaugh of past misconduct. Avenatti’s representation of the women was a point of contention, with Avenatti’s delivery of one woman’s statement contradicting her actual statements.
The women’s claims were not found to have merit. The Daniels case also fizzled out, and she was ordered to pay Trump’s attorney fees in the amount of $293,000.
It’s not yet known what Avenatti’s clients in the R. Kelly case will do following his arrest.