Avenatti released on bail, accuses Nike of breaking law

Avenatti released on bail, accuses Nike of breaking law

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WASHINGTON — After being released on bail Monday evening, attorney Michael Avenatti took to Twitter to both defend himself and accuse Nike of covertly paying young athletes in hopes that the company could secure endorsement deals in the future.

Avenatti was arrested on extortion charges involving Nike, prosecutors in the Southern District of New York announced Monday.

According to court filings, Avenatti and an unnamed attorney identified as a co-conspirator, later identified as Mark Geragos, approached the sports apparel giant with disparaging information and threatened to go public unless their client was paid millions of dollars.

The lawyers also sought to be hired, and paid millions, by Nike to conduct an internal investigation, court filings said.

Avenatti later told representatives from Nike that if he were paid $22.5 million, he would keep silent, according to court filings.

Adding to Avenatti’s legal issues, the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Central District of California simultaneously charged him on two counts of federal bank and wire fraud.

He was released Monday night on a $300,000 bond. He was ordered to surrender his passport and his travel was limited to between New York and California.

The attorney became a media fixture last year after representing Stormy Daniels, an adult film star who alleges that she had an affair with Donald Trump in 2006 and was then paid $130,000 shortly before the U.S. election to keep it quiet.

Daniels and Avenatti parted ways earlier this year. In a tweet on Monday, Daniels said she was “saddened but not shocked” by her former lawyer’s arrest.

In a statement, Nike said they are in the process of cooperating with investigators probing the ongoing NCAA scandal, which has previously engulfed Adidas.

“Nike has been cooperating with the government’s investigation into NCAA basketball for over a year,” Nike said in an unsigned statement. “When Nike became aware of this matter, Nike immediately reported it to federal prosecutors. When Mr. Avenatti attempted to extort Nike over this matter, Nike with the assistance of outside counsel at Boies Schiller Flexner, aided the investigation. Nike firmly believes in ethical and fair play, both in business and sports, and will continue to assist the prosecutors.”

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