UPDATE, 8:44 p.m. ET: The Wall Street Journal is reporting that celebrity lawyer Mark Geragos is apparently the unnamed co-conspirator referenced in Nike‘s extortion case against super lawyer Michael Avenatti.
Geragos, a longtime celebrity lawyer who has defended some extremely high-profile clients like Colin Kaepernick, was also a CNN contributor… until earlier this afternoon.
Just received this from a CNN spokeswoman on Mark Geragos, who is Michael Avenatti's alleged co-conspirator:
"Mark Geragos is no longer CNN contributor."
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona)
What we’re hearing so far from the Department of Justice statement is that the one-time Presidential hopeful “embezzled a client’s money in order to pay his own expenses and debts — as well as those of his coffee business and law firm — and also defrauded a bank by using phony tax returns to obtain millions of dollars in loans.”
Specific accusations from the DOJ say Avenatti allegedly:
- “negotiated a settlement which called for $1.6 million in settlement money to be paid on January 10, 2018, but then gave the client a bogus settlement agreement with a false payment date of March 10, 2018”
- “defrauded a bank in Mississippi by submitting to the lender false tax returns in order to obtain three loans totaling $4.1 million for his law firm and coffee business in 2014”
When he said he was the only one who could get on Donald Trump‘s level, we didn’t mean because he’d committed the same crimes!!!
(Srsly, Trump has literally been accused of fraudulently inflating his wealth to obtain loans from Deutsche Bank. Cray.)
Of course, it’s even worse for Avenatti who had sold himself as a champion of those fighting injustice. As U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna said in the statement:
“A lawyer has a basic duty not to steal from his client.”
In a SEPARATE criminal complaint, believe it or not, Avenatti is also accused of trying to extort millions of dollars from Nike.
Shortly before his arrest, Avenatti tweeted:
“Tmrw at 11 am ET, we will be holding a press conference to disclose a major high school/college basketball scandal perpetrated by Nike that we have uncovered. This criminal conduct reaches the highest levels of Nike and involves some of the biggest names in college basketball.”
According to NBC, this threat may have been part of an extortion scheme against the sports giant.
Avenatti has been charged with threatening to use “his ability to garner publicity to inflict substantial financial and reputational harm on the company if his demands were not met.”
According to the complaint, Avenatti told the company:
“I’ll go take $10 billion dollars off your client’s market cap… I’m not f**king around.”
Apparently his demands were $20 million paid to himself and an unnamed party he claimed to represent.
And we were so on the man’s side after he stood up for women who had been used by the president.
Avenatti entered the spotlight (and refused to leave it) as the attorney representing Stormy Daniels in her lawsuit challenging the NDA she signed after being paid $130,000 in hush money by Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.
Cohen has since plead guilty to the crimes Avenatti and Daniels accused him of AND implicated Trump in his testimony to Congress. And the judge ruled the NDA was illegal in the first place.
So their lawsuit was fairly successful, if it did not result in what Avenatti promised, a deposition from the President of the United States.
Yet Stormy and Avenatti had a falling out late last year which seemed to be over money. These new charges go a long way toward explaining what that might have been about…
They had seemed to patch things up, but last month Stormy tweeted she had found a new lawyer:
“I have retained Clark Brewster as my personal lawyer and have asked him and his firm to review all legal matters involving me. Upon completion of Mr. Brewster’s review and further consultation with me, I anticipate Mr. Brewster will serve as my primary counsel on all legal issues.”
Did she know this was coming? Not exactly. But she’s “not surprised.”
In a tweet after the news broke, she wrote:
“Knowing what I know now about Michael Avenatti, I am saddened but not shocked by news reports that he has been criminally charged today. I made the decision more than a month ago to terminate Michael’s services after discovering that he had dealt with with me extremely dishonestly and there will be more announcements to come. I ask that the media respect my decision to withhold further public comment regarding Mr. Avenatti at this time.”
If convicted on all counts, Avenatti could face up to 50 years in prison. You know, unless the judge decided he’d lived “an otherwise blameless life.”
In any case, expect Trump to start taking a victory lap over this, despite, again, being accused of one of the exact same felonies! LOLz!
What do YOU think about this latest shocker??
[Image via WENN.]