Michael Avenatti, a lawyer most notable for his defense of Stormy Daniels against Donald Trump, was charged on Monday with attempting to extort Nike for millions of dollars over information involving a high school and college basketball scandal. As details about the case emerged, the situation seemed to be more bizarre.
Avenatti apparently tweeted his way into trouble when he publicly pointed out more scandals could be coming in amateur athletics while privately negotiating with Nike to keep information he knew about a potential scandal quiet through hush payments. Nike has already responded to the extortion attempt report, saying it had been cooperating with authorities about scandals for more than a year and had also reported the extortion attempt when it was initially made.
But perhaps the most 2019 Mad Libs detail of the case is that another notable lawyer is reportedly the other co-conspirator in the case. According to the Wall Street Journal report detailing the investigation and the criminal complaint, an unnamed co-conspirator had been named by WSJ sources as Jussie Smollett’s lawyer, Mark Geragos.
The allegations related to Nike arose out of Mr. Avenatti’s representation of a client identified in the complaint as the coach of an amateur men’s basketball program in California, which prosecutors said had a sponsorship agreement with Nike.
The co-conspirator in that matter is attorney Mark Geragos, two people familiar with the matter said. Mr. Geragos couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
A detail about that co-conspirator from the released complain, which you can read in full here, does line up with information about Geragos.
Smollett is the Empire actor who alleged he was attacked in a brutal hate crime in Chicago earlier in the year. After an investigation, Chicago police determined that the attack was a hoax, and the actor was arrested for filing a fake police report.
Meanwhile, Stormy Daniels issued a statement about Avenatti, her now-former lawyer, given the news of multiple charges against him.
It’s unclear what other information Daniels is alluding to in the statement, but it seems that Avenatti was certainly up to a number of different schemes, given the separate criminal charges that came to light in California on Monday as well.