Avenatti was convicted on Friday of one count of fraud and another two counts of extortion after prosecutors alleged the 48-year-old lawyer attempted to extort $25 million from Nike after defrauding a client over improper payments to families of college basketball recruits.
The attorney faces a statutory maximum of 20 years behind bars. Sentencing is slated for June 17.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation recorded the disgraced lawyer's extortion attempt after he met with Nike representatives on March 19, 2019. At the time Avenatti threatened to hold a press conference about the payments unless the sportswear company paid his client Gary Franklin $1.5 million. He also demanded up to $25 million for himself.
“I’m not f**king around with this, and I’m not continuing to play games,” Avenatti told Nike representatives, according to court documents cited by NBC News. “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. A few million dollars doesn’t move the needle for me.”
Howard Srebnick, one of Avenatti's lawyers, contended in closing arguments that his client was "not guilty" and "acted in good faith," adding that "this was exactly what the clients wanted."
Avenatti rose to prominence after representing porn star Stormy Daniels (real name Stephanie Clifford) in her lawsuit against US President Donald Trump. However, he has since been indicted for defrauding Daniels as well. Avenatti is expected to return to Manhattan in April for his trial regarding his alleged theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars in publishing money from Daniels.
Following the announcement of Avenatti's conviction, Daniels issued a statement on the matter on social media, writing, "what [Avenatti] did to me was just the tip of the iceberg of deceit."
View this post on Instagram
Avenatti was also arrested just last month by the Internal Revenue Service and charged with embezzlement and a litany of other finance-related charges. The lawyer will face these charges, which were filed in California, in the spring as well.