Federal prosecutors in New York and California have charged celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti with extortion and bank and wire fraud, according to ESPN’s Mark Schlabach.
Avenatti, 48, was charged in New York with attempting to extort more than $20 million in payments from apparel brand Nike by threatening to use his ability to garner publicity to inflict substantial financial and reputational harm on the mega-brand if his demands were not met by Nike.
Avenatti is best recently known for representing Stormy Daniels in her lawsuit against President Donald Trump and his attorney, Michael Cohen.
“The defendant was arrested earlier today and is in custody” Nicholas Biase, spokesman for the Southern District of New York said in a statement. “He is expected to be presented in Manhattan federal court [Monday] afternoon.”
The complaint from New York alleges that Avenatti threatened to hold a press conference on the eve of Nike’s quarterly earnings call and the start of 2019 March Madness, where he would announce allegations of misconduct by Nike employees unless Nike agree to an immediate payout to Avenatti of $1.5 million.
“Avenatti stated that he would refrain from holding the press conference and harming Nike only if Nike made a payment of $1.5 million to a client of Avenatti’s in possession of information damaging to Nike … and agreed to ‘retain’ Avenatti and [an unidentified co-conspirator] to conduct an ‘internal investigation’ — an investigation that Nike did not request, for which Avenatti and [the co-conspirator] demanded to be paid, at a minimum, between $15 [million] and $25 million,” the complaint alleged.
The Feds say that the co-conspirator as “an attorney licensed to practice in the state of California, and similarly known for representation of celebrity and public figure clients.
“For a number of years, the AAU program coached by Client-1 had a sponsorship agreement with Nike pursuant to which Nike paid the AAU program approximately $72,000 annually,” the complaint says.
In the California case, Avenatti was accused of embezzling a client’s money to pay his own expenses and debts — as well as those of his coffee business and law firm. The U.S. attorney’s office also said he defrauded a bank by using phony tax returns to obtain millions of dollars in loans.
Federal prosecutors announced the charges against Avenatti less than an hour after he tweeted that he was holding a press conference on Tuesday morning “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.”
U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said during a news conference that “By engaging in the conduct alleged in the complaint, Avenatti was not acting as an attorney.”
“A suit and tie does not mask the fact that at its core, this was an old-fashioned shake down,” Berman said. The prosecutor said the investigation is continuing.
“Nike will not be extorted or hide information that is relevant to a government investigation.”
“Nike has been cooperating with the government’s investigation into NCAA basketball for over a year,” the company said. “When Nike became aware of this matter, Nike immediately reported it to federal prosecutors. When Mr. Avenatti attempted to extort Nike over this matter, Nike with the assistance of outside counsel at Boies Schiller Flexner, aided the investigation.”
“Nike firmly believes in ethical and fair play, both in business and sports, and will continue to assist the prosecutors,” Mike said in an official statement.
Former WWE Superstar Ashley Massaro Dead at 39
Former WWE superstar and 2005 Diva Search Winner Ashley Massaro has died at the age of 39, according to a report from TMZ.
Massaro was transported from her home in Suffolk County, NY to a nearby hospital where she died early Thursday morning, per the report which cited officials. Massaro’s death is currently being classified as “non-criminal.”
Massaro was most known for her appearances at WWE’s annual extravaganza, WrestleMania, and she competed in a WWE Women’s Championship match against Melina at Wrestlemania 23 back in 2007, and then a Playboy BunnyMania LumberJill match at Wrestlemania 24 in 2008.
Massaro was the cover girl for the April 2007 edition of Playboy and also appeared on “Survivor: China” in 2007, where she was voted off in the second episode.
Massaro left WWE in 2008 but returned to professional wrestling by joining an independent company in 2017.
WWE released a statement regarding Massaro’s passing on their official website.
“We are saddened to learn of the tragic death of former WWE Superstar Ashley Massaro. She performed in WWE from 2005-2008 and was beloved by her fellow Superstars and fans around the world.
WWE offers its condolences to Ashley’s family and friends.”
Pro Wrestler Silver King Dies In Ring During London Match
Professional wrestler Silver King, real name César Cuauhtémoc González Barrón, died after collapsing in the ring during a match in London, he was 51 years old, according to a report from FOX News.
Silver King was performing in the Lucha Libre show at the Roundhouse when he died and the promotion took to Twitter to issue the following statement:
“Last night Silver King sadly lost his life during an event at the Roundhouse. At this stage the details are still being investigated so we don’t have more information we can share,” Roundhouse tweeted. “Our thoughts and condolences are with his family, friends and all of the Lucha Libre team.”
According to the promotion, Silver King was to perform as the villain Ramses, the character he portrayed in the 2006 film Nacho Libre, which starred Jack Black and went on to have notable success.
Silver King collapsed to the floor after a kick to the side of his body and other performers participating in the match did not notice anything was wrong initially.
“It seemed to be part of the show at first, but then he didn’t get up – and then the medical team was on the stage,” members of the audience said, according to the Camden New Journal. “Everybody was cleared out and lots of police and ambulances were there.”
The London Ambulance Service said that while paramedics arrived on the scene only five minutes after the 12:01 am call, Silver King was pronounced dead at the scene, according to a report from Sky News.
S I L V E R K I N G
🖤 1968 – 2019 🕊️ pic.twitter.com/LJJSyrwyfM
— Lucha Libre AAA (@luchalibreaaa) May 12, 2019
WWE released the following statement regarding his passing:
“A champion luchador in his native Mexico, Silver King, real name César Cuauhtémoc González Barrón, entertained audiences across the globe, and was a standout in WCW’s Cruiserweight division in the late ’90s,” WWE said int he statement. “Outside the ring, he appeared under a mask as the villainous Ramses in the popular 2006 comedy “Nacho Libre.”
“WWE extends its deepest condolences to Silver King’s family, friends and fans,” WWE continued.
Jack Black took to his Instagram page to issue the following:
View this post on Instagram
Neymar Suspended 3 Games for Punching Fan in Stands
Neymar’s Paris Saint-Germain club had just lost to Stade Rennes in a 6-5 penalty shootout, and following the loss the 27-year old superstar and his team had to go through the crowd to get their second place medals.
That’s where things got a little of hand for Neymar and a fan in the stands.
As Neymay traveled through the crowd he claims a fan lurched at him and began shouting various insults which prompted Neymar to punch him in the face. Neymar later stated that; “I was wrong but I don’t have cockroach blood.”
The fan who was struck claims he suffered a bloody nose and a split lip from the punch and Neymar was hit with a 3-game suspension from the French Football Federation, a suspension the team has described as “severe.”
PSG and Neymar will appeal the suspension.
Neymar appeared to smack someone in the face on the way to collect his runners-up medal last night after having a smartphone shoved in his direction by the man in question who was insulting him. pic.twitter.com/ubQQstObPo
— Get French Football News (@GFFN) April 28, 2019
- NHL7 years ago
SportsRantz All-Star Snubs Roster
- MLB2 years ago
Pablo Sandoval Is Reportedly Reuniting With The San Francisco Giants
- MLB2 years ago
Mets Make The Smart Decision To Commit To Yoenis Cespedes Long-Term
- NFL2 years ago
Cameron Brate: The League’s Hot New Fantasy Tight End
- NHL2 years ago
Have a deep talk with the young prospects about drugs
- NHL2 years ago
A lot of hockey teams training wrong?
- Arizona Cardinals2 years ago
2016 NFL Season Week 14 Pick ‘Ems
- Houston Rockets2 years ago
Houston Rockets Target Donatas Motiejunas Is Being Hustled By His Agent