Prosecutors claim Avenatti was over $15M in debt during alleged Nike extortion
California attorney Michael Avenatti, known for representing porn actress Stormy Daniels in a lawsuit against U.S. President Donald Trump, was more than $15 million in debt when he allegedly tried to extort as much as $25 million from Nike Inc, U.S. prosecutors claimed.
"Specifically, the Government presently estimates that the defendant's debts at that time were, conservatively, in excess of $15 million," prosecutors said in a filing late on Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
In a statement to Reuters late on Wednesday, Avenatti denied those claims and dismissed them as "bogus."
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"Any claim that I was $15 million in debt is completely bogus, ludicrous and absurd. I can't wait for the trial in this case, at which point the TRUTH and FACTS will come out and I will be fully exonerated," Avenatti said in an emailed statement.
Last week, Avenatti, 48, pleaded not guilty to an indictment accusing him of trying to extort up to $25 million from Nike by threatening to go public with claims the company made improper payments to athletes.
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The celebrity lawyer is accused by prosecutors of demanding money from the athletic wear company in exchange for agreeing to scrap a threatened news conference to discuss Nike's alleged improper payments to elite college basketball recruits.
A trial is scheduled for late in January. Nike, which has denied wrongdoing, did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment on Wednesday.
Since his March 25 arrest in the Nike case, Avenatti has defended himself against a variety of criminal charges.
He has pleaded not guilty in Manhattan to stealing about $300,000 from Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, after helping her secure a book contract.
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He has also pleaded not guilty in California to wire fraud, bank fraud and other crimes, including stealing from clients.
(Reporting by Kanishka Singh and Rama Venkat in Bengaluru; editing by Richard Pullin)