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Supreme Court rejects Michael Avenatti appeal as Nike extortion conviction stands

The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected Michael Avenatti’s appeal and upheld his conviction for trying to extort $25 million from Nike.

“The petition for writ of certiorari is denied,” the Supreme Court’s order said, without providing any details other than that Justice Brett Kavanaugh did not participate in the deliberations or decision.

Avenatti was the lawyer for Julie Swetnick, one of the women who publicly accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct when he was nominated to the Supreme Court in 2018. Kavanaugh has denied the allegations.

Avenatti rose to fame representing adult film actress Stormy Daniels in her legal battle against former President Trump. The Supreme Court’s decision came on the same day that closing arguments were scheduled to be heard in Trump’s four-week criminal trial in Manhattan. The case is based on allegations that Trump falsified business records to hide hush money payments he made to Daniels, who claims she had a sexual relationship with him 10 years ago, just before the 2016 presidential election.

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Michael Avenatti made a statement to reporters as he left the federal courthouse in New York on July 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Avenatti became involved with Nike after blowing the whistle on the shoe and apparel maker’s payments to amateur basketball players. His lawyers argued that the fraud charges he was convicted of were unconstitutionally vague and that because he was involved in settlement negotiations, he couldn’t be criminally charged with conspiring to extort money from Nike.

The exterior of the Supreme Court

Supreme Court of the United States. (AP Photo/Maryam Zuhaib)

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

In 2021, Avenatti, who was based in California, was sentenced to two and a half years in prison in the Nike case.

He was also convicted of stealing book proceeds from Daniels and was sentenced to an additional two-and-a-half years in prison in June 2022 in connection with that case. The conviction was upheld by the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in March. In December 2022, Avenatti pleaded guilty to stealing millions of dollars in settlements from four other clients, including a paraplegic man, and for failing to pay taxes on a coffee chain he owns, and was sentenced to an additional 14 years in prison.

Stormy Daniels is being questioned by lawyer Susan Necheles in the criminal trial of former US President Donald Trump.

A courtroom sketch depicting Stormy Daniels being questioned by attorney Susan Necheles during former President Trump’s hush money criminal trial on May 9, 2024, in New York City. (Reuters/Jane Rosenberg)

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Avenatti is scheduled for release in 2035, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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