Stormy Daniels' ex-lawyer found guilty of extortion

New York, Feb 15
Michael Avenatti, who represented adult film star Stormy Daniels in a lawsuit against US President Donald Trump, has been found guilty of attempted extortion, it was reported.

On Friday, federal prosecutors in New York said Avenatti, 48, met a lawyer for Nike in March 2019, during which he threatened to release damaging information about the American sports giant unless it paid him between $15-25 million, the BBC reported.

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At the time he approached Nike, Avenatti had been representing his then-client Gary Franklin, who ran a youth basketball league in Los Angeles.

Court papers have revealed that Avenatti threatened to hold a press conference alleging Nike had made illicit payments to young basketball players in Los Angeles. Revealing this would wipe billions from the multinational company's stock value, he had suggested.

Nike immediately reported the matter to federal prosecutors and Avenatti was arrested shortly after announcing he would hold a news conference about a scandal surrounding the company.

The prosecutors also heard that Avenatti had been at least $11 million in debt.

Last month, Avenatti's lawyers said he was suffering while being held in solitary confinement and under 24-hour lockdown in the same Manhattan prison cell that housed Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, the BBC reported.

Friday's verdict came after a three-week trial. The lawyer, who was also charged with defrauding Daniels' of book proceeds, could face up to 42 years in prison when he will be sentenced in June.

He also faces another trial in Los Angeles in May on accusations he defrauded clients and others of millions of dollars.