UPDATE: Mark Geragos, an attorney for Colin Kaepernick, Jussie Smollett, and other celebrities, is an alleged co-conspirator in the scheme to extort Nike, according to the Wall Street Journal. He has not been charged.
(VICE News) — Celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti has been arrested and charged with federal wire fraud and bank fraud in California as well as four counts of extortion in New York, prosecutors from two separate districts announced Monday.
Avenatti tried to extort more than $20 million from Nike, according to a federal complaint filed in New York’s Southern District. In a second, apparently unrelated case, Avenatti embezzled a client’s money to, in part, pay off expenses for his coffee business, Global Baristas US LLC, which operated Tully’s Coffee stores, according to federal prosecutors in California.
Avenatti purchased the coffee stores in 2013 with actor Patrick Dempsey, who sued Avenatti that same year to break their business partnership. The prosecutors in California also accused the lawyer of defrauding a bank with phony tax returns to obtain millions of dollars in loans.
Avenatti is facing 50 years in federal prison over the charges in California. He will have his initial court appearance in New York on Monday, and he’s scheduled to have another in California at a later date. His bail is currently set at $50,000.
In an attempt to extort money from Nike, Avenatti threatened to hold a press conference on the eve of Nike’s quarterly earnings call and announce allegations of misconduct by Nike employees, prosecutors said. “I’ll go take ten billion dollars off your client’s market cap,” Avenatti told Nike’s attorneys on March 19, according to the complaint. “I’m not f*cking around.”
Avenatti on Monday posted a tweet saying we would be holding a press conference to disclose a “major high school/college basketball scandal” perpetrated by Nike that he claimed to have uncovered. “This criminal conduct reaches the highest levels of Nike and involves some of the biggest names in college basketball,” Avenatti said in the tweet.
Read the federal complaint against Michael Avenatti in Southern District of New York below:
Read the federal complaint against Avenatti in the Central District of California:
Developing story…more to come…
Incident At Schiphol Airport
Police are responding to an incident on board a plane at Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam.
Police have surrounded an Air Europa plane at a cargo area of Schiphol Airport following an incident on board.
The Royal Dutch Military Police have confirmed they are investigating a suspicious situation aboard an aircraft at Schiphol Airport.
German Outlet Nieuwsuur reports that scanner traffic indicates a ”heavily armed Special Security Unit DSI” has arrived at the airport.
More to come.