Michael Avenatti Sentenced to 2 1/2 Years for Trying to Extort Nike

Michael Avenatti, whose star turn as Stormy Daniels’s pugnacious lawyer ended two years ago in a flurry of criminal charges, was sentenced Thursday to 2 1/2 years in prison for trying to extort Nike Inc. for more than $20 million.

Mr. Avenatti, 50 years old, was convicted after a jury trial in February 2020 on all three counts he faced: extortion, transmission of interstate communications with intent to extort, and wire fraud. The case grew out of Mr. Avenatti’s threats to expose purported corruption in Nike’s elite basketball program unless the apparel giant paid him to conduct an internal investigation.

Before handing down the sentence, U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe called Mr. Avenatti’s conduct outrageous and said he operated as if laws that apply to everyone else didn’t apply to him.

“Mr. Avenatti had become drunk on the power of his platform,” Judge Gardephe said in a Manhattan federal courtroom.

When Mr. Avenatti leaves prison, he will face three years of supervised release, Judge Gardephe ordered.

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