Supreme Court rejects Michael Avenatti appeal as Nike extortion conviction stands

The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected Michael Avenatti’s appeal request, upholding a conviction for plotting to extort $25 million from Nike. 

“The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied,” the Court’s order said without elaboration, other than to note that Justice Brett Kavanaugh did not participate in the consideration or decision.

Avenatti represented Julie Swetnick, one of the women who publicly accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct when he was nominated to the court in 2018. Kavanaugh denied the allegations.

Avenatti garnered notoriety as an attorney representing adult film actress Stormy Daniels in legal battles against former President Trump. The Court’s decision comes the same day closing arguments are expected in Trump’s four-week-long criminal trial in Manhattan. The case is based on allegations that Trump falsified business records to cover up hush-money payments made shortly before the 2016 presidential election to Daniels, who alleged she had a sexual encounter with him a decade earlier.

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Avenatti’s involvement with Nike stems from a whistleblower’s allegations that the athletic footwear and clothing company was paying amateur basketball players. His lawyers argued that the fraud statute under which he was convicted is unconstitutionally vague. They also contended that Avenatti cannot be criminally charged with plotting to extort money from Nike because he was engaged in settlement negotiations.

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The conviction and sentence were upheld by the federal appeals court in New York. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Avenatti’s claim that there was insufficient evidence to support his February 2020 conviction on charges of extortion and honest-services fraud for threatening to smear Nike in the media if he did not get paid.

In 2021, Avenatti, who was based in California, was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison in the Nike case. 

He was also convicted of stealing book proceeds from Daniels, and in June 2022, was sentenced to another 2 1/2 years in prison in connection to that case. That conviction was upheld by the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in March. In December 2022, Avenatti was sentenced to another 14 years in prison after pleading guilty to stealing millions in settlement funds from four other clients, including a paraplegic man, and failing to pay taxes for a coffee chain he owned.

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Avenatti is scheduled to be released from prison in 2035, according to the Bureau of Prisons.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.