Trump foe and celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti was arrested Monday on federal charges of wire and bank fraud, embezzling from a client and, separately, for attempting to extort $20 million from athletic apparel company Nike.
According to the criminal complaint filed in California, Avenatti embezzled a client’s money to pay his own bills and to fund his coffee business and law firm. It further alleges he defrauded a bank by using phony tax returns to obtain millions of dollars in loans. In a separate New York case, prosecutors allege he threatened to damage Nike’s reputation if the company did not agree to make at least $22.5 million in payments to him and an unnamed, uncharged co-conspirator — believed to be Los Angeles-based attorney Mark Geragos, according to the Wall Street Journal and The Associated Press, which both cited unidentified sources.
Geragos did not comment publicly, but Avenatti, who shot to fame representing porn star Stormy Daniels in dueling lawsuits with President Donald Trump over an alleged affair between the two, proclaimed his innocence.