Disgraced former attorney Michael Avenatti is requesting a new trial after he was convicted last year of trying to extort up to $25 million from NIke by threatening to go public with corruption allegations and cause billions of dollars in valuation losses.
New York prosecutors have been pushing for Avenatti to begin his two-and-a-half year prison sentence for attempting to extort the athletic apparel company. He was initially allowed to postpone reporting to prison because he was facing another trial on charges he defrauded clients and others in California, but that ended in a mistrial.
In a court filing obtained by Fox News, Avenatti’s attorney, Benjamin Silverman, accused prosecutors of withholding evidence that would have helped Avenatti’s case.
"Just like in California, the prosecutors in the Nike case withheld critical evidence that showed Mr. Avenatti was innocent," a lawyer for Avenatti said in a statement. "Judge Selna in California already found that the government withheld favorable information from Mr. Avenatti for years. We are asking that a second do the same."
Without the pending California trial, Avenatti has no valid excuse to delay reporting to prison, Manhattan federal prosecutors said in a letter to the judge who sentenced Avenatti in July.
Avenatti, 50, gained national attention in 2018 when he represented porn star Stormy Daniels in lawsuits against then-President Donald Trump and frequently made the rounds on cable television programs.
In the Nike case, Avenatti was representing a California amateur basketball league coach when prosecutors said he threatened to use his access to media exposure to muddy the sportswear giant’s name if it didn’t pay him millions of dollars.
In 2019, federal prosecutors in New York charged Avenatti with defrauding Daniels by failing to pay her hundreds of thousands of dollars she was owed from a book deal. Avenatti, who had pleaded not guilty, is scheduled to face trial on those charges in January.
His lawyers cited the Manhattan trial date and his pending appeals case in California as reasons for him to remain free so he can better prepare for those legal fights. The lawyers noted that Avenatti remains on home confinement.
They also said Avenatti lived "in horrific conditions" during a more than three-month stint in a federal lockup in Manhattan last year. They argued that the conditions at a Brooklyn facility where he would be housed if he were detained during the January trial would be as bad or worse.
Fox News’ David Ruitz and The Associated Press contributed to this report.