Manhattan federal prosecutors are seeking to impose a "very substantial" prison sentence on lawyer Michael Avenatti for his attempted extortion scheme on Nike.
U.S. Probation Office officials recommend an eight-year sentence for Avenatti, who was floated as a 2020 presidential candidate and frequented cable news networks, prosecutors said in a Manhattan federal court submission.
"The defendant, a prominent attorney and media personality with a large public following, betrayed his client and sought to enrich himself by weaponizing his public profile in an attempt to extort a publicly-traded company out of tens of millions of dollars. This was an egregious abuse of trust, and it warrants real and serious punishment," prosecutors wrote in the submission.
Avenatti, 50, was convicted in February 2020 of trying to extort up to $25 million from Nike by threatening to make public corruption allegations involving college athletes.
Avenatti's legal team argued June 9 its client should get a lenient sentence of six months in prison and a year of home detention. Part of the lawyers' reported argument was that no money was actually lost from the crime, and Avenatti had already suffered public ridicule.
"He cannot go anywhere in public without inducing and subjecting himself to vitriolic comments and abuse," the lawyers wrote. "These circumstances alone would deter anyone in Avenatti’s shoes from engaging in similar conduct."
Avenatti's sentencing is scheduled for June 30, but the ex-attorney will also have to stand trial in Los Angeles over charges of allegedly defrauding his clients out of millions of dollars.
Avenatti became a national figure after representing Daniels in her legal battle against former President Donald Trump in 2018. He often discussed his work on major networks such as CNN and MSNBC.
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Original Author: Mica Soellner
Original Location: Prosecutors seeking 'very substantial' prison sentence on Michael Avenatti