California lawyer Michael Avenatti, who made his name as a fierce critic of President Donald Trump, was charged by federal prosecutors on both coasts, accused in New York of trying to extort millions of dollars from Nike Inc. and in Los Angeles of embezzling money from a client and defrauding a bank.
The charges, which Avenatti has denied, depict a lawyer desperate for cash and willing to exploit his own clients. In California, prosecutors say, he stole a client’s $1.6 million settlement and used it to cover expenses. In New York, he’s accused of telling Nike he’d cancel a press conference accusing the company of making illegal payoffs to promising basketball players. In exchange, he demanded $1.5 million for an unidentified client, and as much as $25 million for him and another attorney to conduct an internal investigation.