Michael Avenatti has been found guilty on all counts in Nike extortion trial

Posted Friday, 14 February 2020 ‐ CNN

(CNN)Michael Avenatti is guilty on all three counts he was facing, according to a decision by a jury in federal court in New York on Friday.Prosecutors said the lawyer threatened to publicly accuse athletic apparel maker Nike of illicitly paying amateur basketball players unless the company paid him millions of dollars. The government said Avenatti also betrayed his client, a youth basketball coach who made the allegations against Nike, by advocating for money for himself instead of the client. Avenatti was charged with transmission of interstate communications with intent to extort, attempted extortion and honest services wire fraud. He still faces two additional trials for allegedly stealing Stormy Daniels' book advance and committing fraud in California. He is being held in jail for allegedly violating the terms of his bail in the California case.Gary Franklin, the youth basketball coach who Michael Avenatti represented, testified last week that he was bullied by Nike executives who forced him to make the illicit payments to top high school basketball players and their families. In 2018, the company ended its sponsorship of Franklin's program, the California Supreme. Franklin said he wanted Avenatti to get Nike to renew his team's sponsorship and get two Nike executives fired.Avenatti was in "crushing debt" at the time and wanted to use Franklin's case to make money, prosecutors said. The high-powered attorney saw Franklin as a "meal ticket," they argued. Nike lawyers who took the stand during the trial said Avenatti told them he would hold a press conference claiming the company illegally paid players. In exchange for not going public, Avenatti told the lawyers in one meeting Nike would have to pay Franklin $1.5 million for any claims he had and immediately pay Avenatti and another attorney $12 million, and guarantee $15 to $25 million in payments for an internal investigation, prosecutors said. Benjamin Homes, an associate attorney for Nike's outside law firm who took notes during several of the meetings with Avenatti, testified that it "evolved into really a shakedown."Franklin testified he was shocked to find out Avenatti was planning a press conference.Avenatti's attorneys have denied he committed any criminal acts because he was acting on behalf of his client who could legally make demands if they related to his claim. They argued Franklin and his friend, Jeffrey Auerbach, have changed their stories since Avenatti was arrested. Citing previous testimony and text messages between Auerbach and Franklin, defense attorneys said the two men were after "justice" and hired "Avenatti to be Avenatti" to get it. They had looked up firms that had "successfully sued Nike" and said it was time to "go after Nike," defense attorney Scott Srebnick said in closing arguments. Auerbach also researched a jury verdict Avenatti won that totaled more than $400 million, and Auerbach and Franklin allegedly told Avenatti "do it your way" after hiring him, Srebnick said. Franklin said he wanted to root out corruption, and Avenatti was on a mission, defense attorneys argued. "The only way to root out corruption, the only way to dismiss employees for corruption is an internal investigation," Howard Srebnick, another defense attorney, said. "He was on a mission for his client. He was on a mission to achieve the goals of his client, and again he would be paid along the way."CNN's Taylor Romine contributed to this report.

Other articles published by CNN

Posted Friday, 21 February 2020 ‐ CNN

(CNN)They were responding to a report of a single bee sting. But their problem was about to get a whole lot worse.A group of firefighters and police that were responding to a bee sting were attacked Thursday afternoon by a swarm of nearly 40,000...

Posted Friday, 21 February 2020 ‐ CNN

New York (CNN Business)With the summer wedding season around the corner, the coronavirus outbreak could leave brides-to-be in panic: Some may be unable to get the wedding gown they want for their big day.China is a leading supplier of wedding gowns. As...

Posted Friday, 21 February 2020 ‐ CNN

(CNN)Mike Bloomberg got into the Democratic primary, in large part, to stop Bernie Sanders.He may be doing the exact opposite.Sanders, after strong showings in Iowa and New Hampshire and with a slew of national polls showing him atop the field, is widely ...

Posted Friday, 21 February 2020 ‐ CNN

New York (CNN Business)It's not often that a company asks to end a tax break that is worth about $100 million a year. But Boeing is doing just that.It's not out of any sense of corporate largess that Boeing (BA) is seeking to end the tax break it has...

Posted Friday, 21 February 2020 ‐ CNN

(CNN)Some students at a New York university are in hot water over allegations they held what the school is describing as a "coronavirus-themed party."Officials at the University of Albany say they are investigating the event, which they called...

Posted Friday, 21 February 2020 ‐ CNN

Arick Wierson is a columnist with CNN, a six-time Emmy Award-winning television producer, and former senior media adviser to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He currently advises political and corporate clients in the United States, Africa and...

Posted Friday, 21 February 2020 ‐ CNN

New York (CNN Business)Wells Fargo was hit with a $3 billion fine Friday by federal authorities outraged by the millions of fake accounts created at the troubled bank over many years.The settlement with the Justice Department and Securities and Exchange...

Posted Friday, 21 February 2020 ‐ CNN

(CNN)The Nevada State Democratic Party is asking site leaders for Saturday's caucuses to sign non-disclosure agreements that would prevent them from speaking to the media.The news comes just one day before the Nevada Democratic caucuses. The caucus...

Posted Friday, 21 February 2020 ‐ CNN

(CNN)Evelyn Yang, whose appearance on CNN last month to share her story of alleged sex assault at the hands of a former Columbia University gynecologist spurred a cascade of new accusers against the same doctor, applauded the Manhattan District...

Posted Friday, 21 February 2020 ‐ CNN

Washington (CNN)Don't go chasing waterfalls. Chase the Democratic nomination instead. Iconic R&B group TLC is taking their hit songs to the 2020 presidential race. The Grammy award-winning group is performing at Democratic presidential candidate Tom...

Posted Friday, 21 February 2020 ‐ CNN

(CNN)Can't afford a Telsa Cybertruck? No worry. Get the toy.Mattel has announced that it is releasing two radio-controlled Hot Wheels Cybertrucks. One will come complete with a reusable cracked vinyl sticker.The Cybertruck, Tesla's futuristic pickup...

Posted Friday, 21 February 2020 ‐ CNN

(CNN)The Colorado River -- which provides water to more than 40 million people from Denver to Los Angeles -- has seen its flow dwindle by 20 percent compared to the last century, and scientists have found that climate change is mainly to blame.The...

Posted Friday, 21 February 2020 ‐ CNN

Columbia, South Carolina (CNN)After a few hymns, two Scripture readings and a rousing gospel song from the choir, Malcolm Kenyatta took the microphone at Reid Chapel AME Church here on a recent Sunday to address more worldly affairs: the state's...

Posted Friday, 21 February 2020 ‐ CNN

Washington (CNN)Former acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire has formally resigned from US government service, a source familiar with the matter tells CNN.The office of DNI officially announced the second-ranking official there, Andrew...

Posted Friday, 21 February 2020 ‐ CNN

(CNN)President Donald Trump's new personnel chief told agency officials at a meeting on Thursday to expect staffing changes and movements across the government, people familiar with the meeting told CNN.A White House official said John McEntee, the...