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Michael Avenatti wants to put Nike on trial in extortion case


Michael Avenatti leaving the Thurgood Marshall Courthouse on Aug. 22, 2019 in New York. (Alec Tabak/for New York Daily News)

Michael Avenatti plans to put Nike on trial as he argues he did not extort the shoe giant, his attorney revealed Thursday.

Avenatti currently faces trial starting Nov. 12 for trying to shake down Nike for more than $20 million or he’d go public with allegations the company secretly paid high school basketball prospects.

His attorney Scott Srebnick said in Manhattan Federal Court that he planned to prove to a jury that Nike had indeed made those payments. He said he’d serve a subpoena on Nike.

“We’re going to be seeking evidence from Nike of payments to players,” Srebnick said.

During the alleged shakedown in March, Avenatti demanded Nike retain him for an internal investigation into the payments that would pay him as much as $25 million, according to prosecutors.

That amount of money was actually low for internal probes of massive corporations, Srebnick said.

Nike-related evidence the government already gave Avenatti’s team appeared to have been obtained from the shoe company through an earlier subpoena unrelated to the extortion case, Srebnick said. Federal prosecutors in Manhattan recently brought a series of NCAA corruption cases involving an Adidas executive, college basketball coaches and other insiders. Nike came up in the cases, but none of the company’s employees were ever charged.

Avenatti’s client when he allegedly tried to extort Nike was Gary Franklin Sr., a prominent figure in the youth basketball world. Franklin coached Deandre Ayton, who was the first pick of the 2018 NBA draft. Ayton’s name was featured prominently in the case against two basketball insiders who paid bribes to college basketball coaches.

Avenatti, who rocketed to fame by representing porn star Stormy Daniels and constantly criticizing President Trump, faces three separate federal cases. In addition to the Nike extortion case, Avenatti is charged in Manhattan with stealing $300,000 for a book deal from Daniels, who claims to have had an affair with Trump. The bulldog lawyer is also charged in Los Angeles with ripping off clients, failing to pay taxes, bank fraud and lying during bankruptcy proceedings.

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