The Slatest

Michael Avenatti Charged With Multiple Crimes Involving Nike, a Chain of Coffee Stores, and Colin Kaepernick’s Lawyer

Hanna, wearing a suit, speaks at a lectern decorated with the Department of Justice seal.
U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna in Los Angeles on Monday.
Mario Tama/Getty Images

Well, a lot of things happened involving former Stormy Daniels lawyer Michael Avenatti on Monday.

First, he announced that he was going to be holding a press conference to reveal some bad things about Nike, things which he seemed to be implying were related to under-the-table compensation of college basketball players:

That press conference isn’t happening, though, because it was shortly thereafter announced by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York that Avenatti was being arrested and charged with attempting to extort Nike:

U.S. attorney Geoffrey Berman explained in a subsequent press conference that Avenatti is accused of bringing an as-yet-unidentified youth basketball coach’s allegations about misconduct to Nike’s attention—and then saying he’d announce the allegations publicly unless Nike paid him, rather than his client, upwards of $20 million personally.

Meanwhile, federal prosecutors in Los Angeles announced that they are also indicting Avenatti for completely unrelated charges of fraud involving two different incidents. The first:

According to an affidavit filed with the criminal complaint in this case, Avenatti negotiated a settlement which called for $1.6 million in settlement money to be paid on January 10, 2018, but then gave the client a bogus settlement agreement with a false payment date of March 10, 2018. The affidavit states that Avenatti misappropriated his client’s settlement money and used it to pay expenses for his coffee business, Global Baristas US LLC, which operated Tully’s Coffee stores in California and Washington state, as well as for his own expenses.

And the second:

Avenatti also allegedly defrauded a bank in Mississippi by submitting to the lender false tax returns in order to obtain three loans totaling $4.1 million for his law firm and coffee business in 2014. According to the affidavit, Avenatti obtained the loans by submitting fabricated individual income tax returns (Forms 1040) for 2011, 2012, and 2013, reporting substantial income even though he had never filed any such returns with the Internal Revenue Service.

Then the Wall Street Journal reported that Avenatti’s alleged co-conspirator in the Nike case, identified in the indictment only as “CC-1,” is L.A. celebrity lawyer Mark Geragos, who currently represents high-profile Nike spokesman Colin Kaepernick. This doesn’t reflect one way or the other on Avenatti’s guilt or innocence, but it does add a surreal worlds-colliding factor, especially given that Gergagos is also currently representing accused hate-crime hoaxer Jussie Smollett.

Geragos has not, at this time, been charged with a crime; Avenatti does not appear to have yet made a public statement or plea related to the charges in either New York or L.A.

What a day!