US attorney Michael Avenatti was sentenced to two and a half years in prison on Thursday after being found guilty of extortion against sports equipment manufacturer Nike in February 2020, the Manhattan federal prosecutor’s office said. This is the latest episode in the downfall of this high-profile lawyer, who in 2018 was a relentless tormentor of Donald Trump, when he portrayed pornstar Stormy Daniels who claimed to have had a brief affair with the New York tycoon.
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The stripper – Stephanie Clifford, whose real name is – had sued the President of the United States to have a confidentiality agreement rescinding him from speaking about this adventure which would have taken place before Donald Trump was elected to the presidency. Michael Avenatti, 50, had then become the spearhead of the anti-Trump protest, increasing his interventions in front of the cameras and on social networks. Some even suspected him of preparing a candidacy for the presidency.
But in March 2019, the shaven-headed lawyer was arrested for attempted extortion against sports equipment manufacturer Nike, as well as for tax evasion. According to investigators, Michael Avenatti has asked company executives to pay him several million dollars to dissuade him from publishing potentially compromising information relating to offenses committed by the comma mark in recruiting college basketball players. At the hearing Thursday, Avenatti, known to be hyperactive and a racing driver in his spare time, was contrite. “Me and I alone ruined my career, my relationships and my life”the attorney at Manhattan federal judge Paul Gardephe said, according to reporters in the room.
“The behavior of Michael Avenatti was scandalous”, concluded the judge, believing that the lawyer had become “drunk” of the power acquired by its public postures. Los Angeles-based Michael Avenatti’s legal troubles are not over. He will face in a federal court in California other charges of fraud, at the expense of his clients or the tax authorities, and in New York of charges of embezzlement of funds intended for Stormy Daniels.