Michael Avenatti gets 2.5 years in prison for Nike extortion scheme, Internet calls it a 'joke'

Michael Avenatti was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison followed by three years of supervised release for trying to extort $20M from Nike

                            Michael Avenatti gets 2.5 years in prison for Nike extortion scheme, Internet calls it a 'joke'
Michael Avenatti, 50, was convicted last year for trying to extort Nike (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Michael Avenatti is famously known for taking on Donald Trump and his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen. The former POTUS reportedly had an affair with adult film star Stormy Daniels, whom Avenatti represented, and who was paid $130,000 to keep quiet about the whole facade. Avenatti is battling with his own legal troubles at the moment.

Avenatti has been sentenced to 2.5 years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release on Thursday, July 8, in a Manhattan federal courtroom in a Nike extortion case. Avenatti, 50, was convicted last year of trying to extort up to $20M from Nike. According to reports, US District Judge Paul Gardephe said Avenatti was "drunk" on the perceived power of his platform. "Mr Avenatti’s conduct was outrageous. He hijacked his client’s claims, and he used those claims to further his own agenda,” he said. The judge also noted that Avenatti faced a statutory maximum of 42 years and added that he considered a number of factors in sentencing Avenatti to 30 months, including the time he spent in the notorious Metropolitan Correctional Center, a Manhattan federal jail. 


Stormy Daniels claims Trump offered her slot on 'The Apprentice' in exchange for sex: 'This is your chance'

How much did Trump pay Stormy Daniels? Internet furious 'he paid her 173 times more' than he did in taxes

Michael Avenatti (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

During the sentencing, Avenatti said, "For years, I did just that, but then I lost my way. I betrayed my values, my friends, my family and then, myself. I became driven by the things that don’t matter in life." Avenatti 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 against Avenatti stemmed from his apparent threats to expose purported corruption in Nike’s elite basketball program unless they paid him to conduct an internal investigation. Avenatti hatched his scheme of extorting money from Nike while he was representing a youth basketball coach, Gary Franklin, who hired Avenatti after Nike ended sponsorship of his league. In a victim impact statement filed in the case prior to the sentencing, Gary said, "I just wanted a lawyer who could convey to Nike that I was an honorable man who was just trying to keep his program. I looked to Mr Avenatti as a trusted advisor and he put his interests over my own. He has never apologized to me for this, and to my knowledge, he has expressed no remorse for his behavior." 

According to prosecutors, Avenatti "betrayed his client’s trust and sought to enrich himself by weaponizing his public profile in an attempt to extort a publicly traded company out of tens of millions of dollars". Avenatti's lawyers had proposed a six-month prison term, arguing that his convicted offenses weren’t violent and didn’t cause financial loss. Avenatti unsuccessfully tried to have the verdict overturned by claiming he wasn’t allowed to present important evidence at trial. His lawyers previously said they would pursue an appeal. They wrote in their presentencing filing, "As for general deterrence, Avenatti’s epic fall and public shaming has played out in front of the entire world."

In addition to his Nike case, Avenatti also faces a litany of tax and bank charges in California with a trial set to begin next week in federal court in Santa Ana, California. A trial in New York is scheduled to start next year on federal charges that he embezzled money from Daniels. Avenatti has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

'This must be a joke'

People took to Twitter and expressed disappointment over Avenatti's jail term. One user wrote, "2.5 years????? Wth is going on??? This must be a joke." Another commented, "The criminal fraud "lawyer" Michael Avenatti is going to prison, and that puts a smile on my face." One tweet read, "This Michael Avenatti sentencing should remind every American how much of a joke the American media is." Another user tweeted, "Michael Avenatti only got 30m for a $20m extortion, so he will be out in about a year If he was a Trump supporter he would have gotten 10 years minimum Banana Republic."