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Donald Trump foe Michael Avenatti gets to 2.5 years for Nike extortion

Lawyer Michael Avenatti was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison for a botched scheme to extort up to $25million from Nike

Lawyer Michael Avenatti was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison for a botched scheme to extort up to $25million from Nike (Pictures: AP/EPA)

Lawyer Michael Avenatti, who represented adult film star Stormy Daniels in lawsuits against then-President Donald Trump, has been sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison for a scheme to extort up to $25million from Nike.

Avenatti, 50, became known nationally for representing Daniels, who claimed that Trump’s personal lawyer paid her $130,000 to stay silent on an alleged affair she had with the then-2016 presidential candidate. Appearing on cable news shows, Avenatti established himself as a vocal Trump critic and even considered running against him in 2020.

However, criminal fraud charges caused Avenatti’s fall from grace. He was convicted of attempted extortion last year and faced other charges linked to representing a Los Angeles basketball league organizer who got angry over Nike pulling its sponsorship.

At a federal courthouse in Manhattan on Thursday, Avenatti tearfully said, ‘I and I alone have destroyed my career, my relationships and my life. And there is no doubt I need to pay’.

‘I am truly sorry for all of the pain I caused to Mr Franklin and others,’ Avenatti continued, referring to Gary Franklin, an amateur basketball coach and his former client. 

Manhattan federal court Judge Paul Gardephe called Avenatti’s conduct in the botched scheme ‘outrageous’.

‘He hijacked his client’s claims, and he used him to further his own agenda, which was to extort Nike millions of dollars for himself,’ Gardephe said. ‘He outright betrayed his client.’

The sentence for Avenatti, who threatened the athletic shoe and apparel company with bad publicity, was lighter than the nine to 11 years and three months recommended under federal guidelines. The reason for that was ‘Mr Avenatti has expressed what I believe to be severe remorse today’, Gardephe said.

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