Celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti was sentenced to 30 months in prison for his failed scheme to extort Nike out of $25 million. Avenatti threatened to publicly accuse the apparel company of illicitly paying amateur athletes unless they paid him millions of dollars.
He was convicted on counts of transmission of interstate communications with intent to extort, attempted extortion, and honest services wire fraud last year and was facing a recommended sentence of between nine and eleven years behind bars.
"Mr. Avenatti's conduct was outrageous," said Judge Paul Gardephe said in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. "He hijacked his client's claims, and he used him to further his own agenda, which was to extort Nike millions of dollars for himself."
While Gardephe excorticated Avenatti during the hearing, he handed down a lenient sentence. Gardephe cited the harsh treatment Avenatti received at a federal prison in Manhattan following his 2019 arrest. He also pointed out that prosecutors have not charged attorney Mark Geragos for his role in the extortion scheme. In addition to the two-and-half years behind bars, Avenatti was given three years of supervised release.
Avenatti began to cry as he apologized for his actions.
"I alone have destroyed my career, my relationships, and my life. And there is no doubt I need to pay," Avenatti said.
Avenatti's legal battles aren't over as he is still facing two additional criminal federal trials.