NEW YORK (AP) — Prosecutors say California attorney Michael Avenatti was over $15 million in debt when he tried to extort up to $25 million from Nike, while Avenatti’s lawyers say the money he legally requested to conduct an internal probe of the sportswear giant was a bargain.
Both sides made the assertions in court papers filed late Tuesday in advance of a Jan. 22 criminal trial in Manhattan, giving U.S. District Judge Paul G. Gardephe time to decide what the jury will be allowed to hear and see.
For Avenatti, it is the first of three scheduled trials in the next five months. He has denied all charges.
Criminal charges against him in other cases include allegations in New York that he defrauded ex-client porn star Stormy Daniels out of proceeds of a book deal and charges in Los Angeles that he defrauded clients of millions of dollars.
In their submission, federal prosecutors said they plan to show the jury that Avenatti owed “conservatively, in excess of $15 million.” Those debts were owed to former clients, one of more former law partners, both of his former spouses for child and spousal support in arrears and a lawyer the government has identified only as “Attorney-1,” they said.
Avenatti told The Associated Press on Wednesday that “any claim that I was $15 million in debt is ridiculous, absurd and laughable.”