Former attorney Michael Avenatti spent much of 2018 accusing then-President Trump of criminal wrongdoing while representing adult film star Stormy Daniels. However, this week, the disbarred lawyer had to answer for misdeeds of his own.
According to Mediaite, Avenatti was sentenced to a two-and-a-half-year federal prison sentence on Thursday for his bizarre and failed attempt to extort the footwear and sports apparel giant, Nike, out of tens of millions of dollars.
“Drunk on the power”
“Mr. Avenatti’s conduct was outrageous,” U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe reportedly said during the disgraced attorney’s sentencing hearing.
“He hijacked his client’s claims, and he used those claims to further his own agenda,” Gardephe continued, adding, “Mr. Avenatti became drunk on the power of his platform — or what he perceived his platform to be.”
The judge added: “He had become someone who operated as if the laws and rules which apply to everyone else didn’t apply to him.”
From candidate to felon
Avenatti was convicted on extortion and wire fraud charges in February 2020 following his efforts to scam Nike out of $25 million. At the time, he was representing an amateur basketball coach who is said to have had no knowledge of the extortion scheme.
The humiliated lawyer attempted to blackmail the Fortune 500 company by threatening to smear it with allegations of corruption — claims that Nike categorically denied.
Nike’s attorneys said in a victim impact statement that Avenatti caused “considerable harm to the company by falsely trying to link it to a scandal in which bribes were paid to the families of NBA-bound college basketball players to steer them to powerhouse programs.”
“I betrayed my values”
For his part, Avenatti showed contrition during the sentencing hearing, telling the judge, “I betrayed my values, my friends, my family, and then, myself. I became driven by the things that don’t matter in life,” he went on to admit, insisting, “TV and Twitter, your honor, mean nothing.”
Avenatti rose to prominence for his role in representing Daniels, who generated numerous headlines of her own after accusing Trump of paying her “hush money” to cover up an alleged affair.
“He was a man you wanted to trust and believe in, but the longer I knew him I began witnessing his lies and dishonesty until I realized I too became his victim. I am sure today he found a reckoning,” Daniels said this week of Avenatti, according to Fox News.
The network also noted that Avenatti was once considered by some Democratic circles to be a contender for the party’s 2020 presidential nomination.