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Michael Avenatti charged with ripping off Stormy Daniels, extorting Nike - Metro US

Michael Avenatti charged with ripping off Stormy Daniels, extorting Nike

Michael Avenatti’s legal troubles escalated on Wednesday as federal prosecutors announced new criminal charges against the combative lawyer and prominent critic of U.S. President Donald Trump, accusing Avenatti of stealing from porn star Stormy Daniels and blackmailing Nike Inc.

Avenatti, 48, was accused of misappropriating funds from Daniels, a former client whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, after helping her secure a book contract.

He was also hit with extortion charges over what prosecutors have called his effort to blackmail Nike out of more than $20 million by threatening to expose what he called the athletic wear company’s improper payments to recruits for college basketball teams it sponsored.

The charges were announced by U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman in Manhattan.

Avenatti also faces dozens of charges in California, where prosecutors have accused him of stealing millions of dollars from clients to pay for personal and business expenses, and lying to the Internal Revenue Service and a Mississippi bank about his finances.

If convicted on all charges, Avenatti could face several hundred years in prison.

Avenatti has maintained his innocence, and said the earlier prosecutions were a means to punish him for representing Daniels and being a Trump critic.

“I look forward to a jury hearing all of the evidence and passing judgment on my conduct,” he wrote on Twitter after Wednesday’s charges were announced.

“At no time was any money misappropriated or mishandled,” he added. “I will be fully exonerated once the relevant emails, contracts, text messages, and documents are presented.”

Lawyers for Avenatti did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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