Patterico's Pontifications

3/25/2019

Michael Avenatti Charged — In Two Districts

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:58 am



Washington Post:

Michael Avenatti, the high profile critic of President Trump, was charged Monday by federal prosecutors with trying to extort Nike by threatening to issue damaging allegations against the company unless it paid his client millions.

But that’s not all! That’s the New York federal case. And then there’s the California federal case:

Federal law enforcement officials will provide details concerning today’s arrest of lawyer Michael Avenatti, who faces federal charges of wire fraud and bank fraud in the Central District of California.

Remarkable. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

UPDATE: Christmas in March.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

149 Responses to “Michael Avenatti Charged — In Two Districts”

  1. Ugh, on so many levels.

    Simon Jester (c8876d)

  2. Were CNN reporters on hand to film the arrest?

    JoeH (f94276)

  3. But does he have a punchable face?

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  4. I’ll answer that. Yes he does!

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  5. Now if these cases were conducted like the Mueller and other probes, we’d offer him a plea bargain if he would say things about the Democrats.

    Sammy Finkelman (102c75)

  6. And Brett Kavanaugh smiled.

    nk (dbc370)

  7. …and had a beer…

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  8. Basta, indeed.

    Dana (023079)

  9. garagos, is the co conspirator, well this opens up the hellmouth,

    narciso (d1f714)

  10. UPDATE: Christmas in March.

    Patterico (115b1f)

  11. ROFL.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  12. And the state bar is doing what exactly?

    Harcourt Fenton Mudd (5e0a82)

  13. iowahawk says if all that schadenfreude is too much, he’ll be doing shadow puppets,

    narciso (d1f714)

  14. Michael Avenatti, the high profile critic of President Trump, was charged Monday by federal prosecutors with trying to extort Nike by threatening to issue damaging allegations against the company unless it paid his client millions

    isn’t that standard for a plaintiff’s
    lawyer?

    I think the problem with that could be if the allegations were demonstrably false. Or, given Avenatti’s recently acquired reputation, Nike is willing to allege that.

    The Wall Street Journal reports that the alleged co-conspirator with Michael Avenatti in the federal extortion case is celebrity attorney Mark Geragos.

    Geragos is a CNN legal analyst and also represents Jussie Smollett.

    Mark Geragos was acting as a lawyer for Michael Avenatti, so I supppose they breached attorney-client privilege using the crime fraud exception.

    https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr-esq/michael-avenatti-enlists-mark-geragos-legal-advice-assault-probe-1163179

    Sammy Finkelman (102c75)

  15. In other news, Anthony Pellicano was let out of jail on Friday, his 75th birthday, after having completed his sentence.

    There are people helping him get back on his feet.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/22/arts/anthony-pellicano-prison-release.html

    https://variety.com/2019/biz/news/anthony-pellicano-released-federal-prison-wiretapping-1203170135/

    Sammy Finkelman (102c75)

  16. They come in threes, don’t they?

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  17. Christmas in March, indeed!

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  18. I’m pretty sure that Avenatti assured everyone that he was a stand-up guy and not at all a scumbag (and a genius), so how could this be????

    At least he can rest assured (based on recent precedent) that being this kind of scumbag won’t derail his presidential ambitions.

    Leviticus (efada1)

  19. this was the lawyer that was going to take Trump down and become the democrat president.

    mg (8cbc69)

  20. charged Monday by federal prosecutors with trying to extort Nike by threatening to issue damaging allegations against the company unless it paid his client millions.

    Where do you draw the line between a legitimate settlement demand and extortion? Because so far (although I grant you that we are still very thin on the details), I don’t see how this differs from a standard settlement demand.

    (Not that I am crying over Avenatti. He sure seems like a sleazy operator.)

    Bored Lawyer (998177)

  21. yes, that wasn’t happening, no way no how,

    narciso (d1f714)

  22. 18… much like it didn’t prevent him from hanging on to his license to practice…

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  23. Anticipointment

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  24. so it was a cross promotion deal with empire, that went horribly wrong?

    narciso (d1f714)

  25. You keep saying you got something on ‘em
    Something you call dirt but confess
    You’ve been a’goin’where you shouldn’t ‘ve been a’goin’
    There are bad eggs but you’re worse than all the rest
    These shoes aren’t made for shakedowns
    And that’s just what this is
    One of these days these shoes are gonna put you outta biz

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  26. Here’s the press release from the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California, which includes a link to the complaint itself (which isn’t yet available on PACER).

    I’m skeptical of the extortion charges, especially given who Nike’s lawyers are.

    I’m far more impressed by the charges of misapplication of client funds. In answer to Harcourt Fenton Mudd’s question in #12 above, I don’t know what the California bar association may have already had in place in terms of investigating Avenatti, but in the ordinary course, most state bar associations would open an investigation upon learning of this sort of criminal complaint, and then hold it in abeyance pending a resolution of the criminal charges. If Avenatti pleads or is found guilty, then in trying to hold onto his bar card, he cannot dispute, as part of the proceedings before the state bar, any of the essential elements of the crime(s) established by the judgment of conviction. And nationwide, by far the most common reason for state bar associations to jerk law licenses is misappropriation of client funds, which is typically vastly easier to prove (and harder to defend against) than something like an “extortion through civil litigation” claim. The bank fraud charges are somewhere in the middle.

    Beldar (fa637a)

  27. Here’s the SDNY press release, which is about the Nike extortion scheme, and the within-referenced complaint.

    Beldar (fa637a)

  28. Creepy Porn Lawyer Shakedown Artist

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  29. 20. Bored Lawyer (998177) — 3/25/2019 @ 12:57 pm

    Because so far (although I grant you that we are still very thin on the details), I don’t see how this differs from a standard settlement demand.

    There’s this clue:

    https://twitter.com/MichaelAvenatti

    Michael Avenatti‏Verified account @MichaelAvenatti · 4h hours ago

    Tmrw at 11 am ET, we will be holding a press conference to disclose a major high school/college basketball scandal perpetrated by @Nike that we have uncovered. This criminal conduct reaches the highest levels of Nike and involves some of the biggest names in college basketball.

    9:16 AM – 25 Mar 2019

    That’s Pacific time.

    Sammy Finkelman (102c75)

  30. And in any sane universe the Stormy Daniels payoff would have been called extortion. Now that the dirt is exposed, I don’t see why it isn’t.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  31. Sammy (#14):

    No. A plaintiff’s lawyer threatens to SUE unless their client is made whole, not to release “damaging information.” And then sues if the action is not forthcoming. Taking legal action is fine, taking extralegal action is extortion.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  32. Schadenboners all the way around…

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  33. Here’s a link to that tweet: (through Charles Cooke)

    https://twitter.com/charlescwcooke/status/1110226898649526274

    Hat tip: National Review

    Now I don’t know,. Nike did force college basketball players to use their shoes – and in one recent case their shoes burst. (unless thatw ss faked, maybe?)

    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/21/sports/zion-nike-shoe-ncaa.html

    When the left sneaker of college basketball’s biggest star split open on national television Wednesday night 30 seconds into the biggest game of the season, what spilled out was not only his foot but also questions about the future of a marquee player and about the huge influence shoe companies hold over big-time college basketball….

    …Former President Barack Obama, sitting on the sidelines at the Duke arena, was seen on video pointing at Williamson and appearing to say, “His shoe broke.”

    As the scene was replayed on countless highlight shows on Thursday, the damaged shoe threatened to become a nightmare for Nike, which pays tens of millions to elite college sports programs to be the exclusive sponsor for teams and supplier of their footwear.

    With his shoe split and his knee sprained, Williamson, an unpaid, budding superstar, sat helpless on the arena floor, staring at the shoe he was wearing in part because of a rich deal between Nike and Duke, one of the world’s wealthiest universities.

    Now i think it’s possible that some general accusations could be true, but Avenatti deciced to fake some evidence. I mean, he did that with Kavanaugh. Fake testimony or evidence I mean.

    Sammy Finkelman (102c75)

  34. When lawyers sue, they can’t hold press conferences too, to increase pressure for a settlement?

    Sammy Finkelman (102c75)

  35. In no way is it even unusual — much less illegal extortion — to point out, as vividly as possible, to a potential target defendant whose shares are publicly traded that, as a result of the threatened litigation, its share price may drop and it may lose a significant percentage of its market capitalization. (That’s technically a loss to the shareholders, not the company itself, but companies, and especially their executives with stock options and benefits, do tend to care about market capitalization and share prices.)

    The only thing I can see which makes Avenatti’s demands to Nike remarkable, in fact, is the identity of Nike’s lawyers — the firm founded & presided over by St. David the Blessed of Boies & Associates, Original Defender of the Man-Bear-Pig, and therefore well connected with the SDNY, even under the Trump DoJ. Of course, given Trump’s lack of affection for Avenatti, that puts him and David Boies’ firm in the position of unlikely bedfellows.

    Beldar (fa637a)

  36. No. A plaintiff’s lawyer threatens to SUE unless their client is made whole, not to release “damaging information.” And then sues if the action is not forthcoming. Taking legal action is fine, taking extralegal action is extortion.

    Yes, that is a correct distinction as I understand the law.

    Note also the invocation of criminal activity by Nike. One, it is unethical to threaten criminal charges to help settle a civil matter. Two, Avenatti is not the prosecutor, he lacks standing (or even a client) to raise these issues.

    IF what the SDNY press release says is true, he is a pretty poor lawyer, apart from everything else.

    Bored Lawyer (998177)

  37. just watched glen greenwalt debate david cay johnson on media collusion against trump and rips the media for lying about there being russian collusion with trump to win 2016 election on democracy now! greenwalt gives an intelligent indict of the media’s russian collusion scandal. you can watch it now on democraticunderground.com (they attack greenwalt for winning the debate)

    lany (b9be6c)

  38. Beldar: what was the threatened claim? And who was his client that had such a claim?

    Bored Lawyer (998177)

  39. Now THAT was just plain mean!

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  40. As codified in most states, it’s unethical for a lawyer to “present, participate in presenting, or threaten to present” criminal charges “solely to gain an advantage in a civil matter.” That qualifier, “solely,” is the exception big enough to drive the Second Armored Division through as a practical matter.

    If the SDNY claimed to have probable cause to show that Avenatti was knowingly basing his demands for compensation in a civil matter like this on falsified evidence, which he was threatening to release to the public for the deliberate purpose of inflicting harm on the target’s stockholders, in order to coerce Nike into a settlement and cover-up based on that knowingly falsified evidence, that would be indictable. Being able to prove such charges, though, is incredibly difficult. And I don’t think the SDNY complaint so alleges. If what’s in today’s document is all they got, I predict it will be tossed on a pretrial motion to dismiss.

    Beldar (fa637a)

  41. @ Bored Lawyer (#38): I’m not sure I’m following your questions. Try me again, please?

    Beldar (fa637a)

  42. 26: lawyers have been prosecuted and convicted for extortion-threats to reveal private information.

    https://www.ocregister.com/2014/11/26/oc-attorney-guilty-in-extortion-plot/

    Harcourt Fenton Mudd (5e0a82)

  43. Evergreen… https://youtu.be/nSuregWhlWk

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  44. 41. Beldar (fa637a) — 3/25/2019 @ 2:00 pm

    If the SDNY claimed to have probable cause to show that Avenatti was knowingly basing his demands for compensation in a civil matter like this on falsified evidence, which he was threatening to release to the public for the deliberate purpose of inflicting harm on the target’s stockholders, in order to coerce Nike into a settlement and cover-up based on that knowingly falsified evidence, that would be indictable. Being able to prove such charges, though, is incredibly difficult.

    Well, if they had a recording of him discussing what kind of baseless allegations he could make, that could do it.

    And I don’t think the SDNY complaint so alleges. If what’s in today’s document is all they got, I predict it will be tossed on a pretrial motion to dismiss.

    According to the Washington Post, they weren’t mainly asking for a settlement.

    Authorities charge Avenatti threatened to hold a news conference on the eve of the NCAA college basketball tournament to reveal damaging allegations against Nike unless it paid his client $1.5 million and agreed to hire Avenatti and another lawyer for $15 million to $25 million to conduct an “internal investigation” into the purported allegations. Authorities did not disclose the identities of Avenatti’s client or the other lawyer cited in the charging documents. A representative for Nike did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

    The charging document said that Avenatti proposed another alternative to hiring him to conduct an investigation — “a total payment of $22.5 million from Nike to resolve any claims (the client) might have and additionally to buy Avenatti’s silence.”

    They were asking for $1 and a half million for their client and $15 million to $25 million for themselves (supposedly to conduct an “internal investigation” for Nike)) They were trying to get hired by Nike.)

    Or they could pay $22.5 million without hiring them.

    Sammy Finkelman (102c75)

  45. ISIS gone… No Muh Collusion… Avenatti heading to teh hoosegow…

    Monday, Monday… so good to me…

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  46. @ Harcourt Fenton Mudd, who wrote (#43), in response to something I’d written earlier:

    26: lawyers have been prosecuted and convicted for extortion-threats to reveal private information.

    That’s true, and your link provides one example. I stand, however, on my assertion that it’s extremely hard to prove, and rarely prosecuted.

    Beldar (fa637a)

  47. #35 Beldar,

    Also the defender of Harvey Weinstein and Theranos.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/21/business/david-boies-pleads-not-guilty.html

    JoeH (f94276)

  48. I’ll take a stab at answering Bored Lawyer’s question from #38, which was:

    Beldar: what was the threatened claim? And who was his client that had such a claim?

    According to the SDNY complaint, Avenatti claimed to that he represented “Client-1,” described in the complaint as “an AAU coach, whose team had previously had a contractual relationship with Nike, but whose contract Nike had recently decided not to renew.” Client-1 would arguably be a third-party beneficiary, well known to Nike, of its contract with the team (or, really, the school which fielded the team) that Client-1 coached.

    Later the complaint describes one of Avenatti’s two demands as being that “Nike must pay $1.5 million to Client-1 as a settlement for any claims Client-1 might have regarding Nike’s decision not to renew its contract with the team coached by Client-1.” We don’t know whether Avenatti offered any more specifics regarding the nature of Client-1’s potential claims, but even this much, revealed on the face of the complaint, is enough to take these demands out of the “bald-faced shakedown” category and move them into the “negotiating the settlement of civil claims” category.

    That Avenattis’ second demand was a sweetheart deal which would benefit him and his law firm disproportionately to the $1.5M to be received as consideration for the release of Nike by Client-1 does indeed make Avenatti look like a pig and an ineffective blowhard. Those aren’t crimes, though. Nor does Avenatti’s ominous prediction about the deluge of inquiries to his office from the press conference, and the likelihood that some 10% of those might turn out to represent persons genuinely aggrieved (with the implication that they’d become Avenatti’s Clients 2-through-whatever), turn this into criminal extortion either.

    Beldar (fa637a)

  49. https://www.cnn.com/2019/03/25/politics/michael-avenatti/index.html

    On Monday, after the two sets of charges against Avenatti became public, Daniels said she was “saddened but not shocked” at the news.

    “I made the decision more than a month ago to terminate Michael’s services after discovering that he had dealt with me extremely dishonestly and there will be more announcements to come,” she said in a statement.

    You remember, he caused her to hav to pay Donald Trump’s legal fees. I think he was filing cases without her consent. Not sure.

    Sammy Finkelman (102c75)

  50. The FBI subpoenaed Nike’s youth basketball league program in September 2017 in connection with a college basketball investigation. I am not aware of any charges then that involved Nike but it did involve Addidas and Pitino, and there are still questions about Nike.

    DRJ (15874d)

  51. Bah-da bah-da-da-da
    Bah-da bah-da-da-da
    Bah-da bah-da-da-da
    Monday, Monday, so good to me
    Monday mornin’, it was all I hoped it would be
    Oh Monday mornin´, Monday mornin’ couldn’t guarantee
    That Monday evenin’ it would still be good with me
    Monday, Monday, watch CNN
    Monday, Monday, fat boy Stelter’s at it again
    Oh Monday mornin´ you gave me no warnin´… MSNBC
    Oh Monday, Monday, that Madcow needs some time to grieve
    ´

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  52. 47:

    “Lawyer extortion” cases are infrequent, I believe, because the extorted party almost always desperately desires a concealed settlement. But when the extorted party decides to out the scam, the lawyer is not shielded by a bar card. Seeking to extort money in return for silence may be extortion.

    The California state Supreme court dealt with this over 10 years ago, deciding that a demand letter was just that under the circumstances in that case. The Flatley case.

    More here.https://www.horvitzlevy.com/230F70/assets/files/News/2016-09-23%20FS_JBR%20When%20Demand%20Letters%20Constitute%20Extortion%20In%20California%20-%20Law360.pdf

    Harcourt Fenton Mudd (5e0a82)

  53. Every settlement demand feels like extortion/blackmail if the person asked to pay thinks s/he did nothing wrong. But to be extortion, wouldn’t a settlement demand have to be based on a false claim or allegations that are untrue?

    DRJ (15874d)

  54. Trump vindicated; lawyers feeding on lawyers… entertainment, where is thy sting; must be sweeps week!

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  55. CNN drops Geragos

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  56. @ Harcourt Fenton Mudd (53): Not just in cases involving lawyers, but in extortion cases generally, the victim may decline to go to law enforcement authorities because so doing threatens to reveal in public information that the victim wants to keep hidden. Your rationale is correct, but doesn’t explain at all why successful prosecutions of lawyers for extortion in connection with settlement negotiations over civil claims is quite rare.

    What does explain the rarity, I repeat, is that it’s incredibly difficult to prove that the lawyer subjectively knew he was presenting a valueless, fraudulent claim based on false or manufactured evidence. And that is as it should be.

    There’s no doubt that Avenatti is a scumbag, nor that in common parlance he’s a shakedown artist. He’s also not a very effective one, and he’s an idiot. But I think that as a matter of law, from the face of this complaint, it doesn’t contain evidence that, if proved, would establish extortion. I’ll be very happy to see him disbarred, so he can be prevented from future exploitation of his bar card, if he’s convicted of the embezzlement or bank fraud charges alleged in the CDCA complaint. But it looks to me like SDNY is overreaching, and I’m very concerned if the politically well connected in New York can enlist the SDNY as easily as the Boies law firm appears to have done here.

    Beldar (fa637a)

  57. @ DRJ, who asked (#54):

    [T]o be extortion, wouldn’t a settlement demand have to be based on a false claim or allegations that are untrue?

    I think so, and moreover, that the false claim or allegations must have been subjectively known to be untrue by the lawyer when made (and not as determined after the fact).

    And yes, when I’m on the defense side, something like 98% of my clients — even very experienced and savvy ones — think that the plaintiff’s settlement demands are “extortionate.” Number of lifetime extortion prosecutions I’ve seen arise from such civil settlement demands in my own practice, or in that of the lawyers I frequently work and trade notes with, over the last 40 years: Zero.

    Beldar (fa637a)

  58. I’m very concerned if the politically well connected in New York can enlist the SDNY as easily as the Boies law firm appears to have done here.

    Trump should hire Boies, if he can.

    DRJ (15874d)

  59. For the record, Mark Geragos is not Greek. He is Armenian (even if he does have a Greek sounding surname). Further, he went to law school at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, not Loyola University of Chicago.

    nk (dbc370)

  60. The substantive extortion claim against Avenatti is based on 18 U.S.C. § 1951. There’s a ton of caselaw restricting the use of that statute in the context of settlement discussions in civil litigation, but here’s a pretty representative string-cite of precedents:

    Section 1951(a) provides, in relevant part: “Whoever . . . obstructs, delays, or affects commerce or the movement of any article or commodity in commerce, by robbery or extortion . . . shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.” 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a). Section 1951(b)(2), in turn, defines “extortion” as the “obtaining of property from another, with his consent, induced by wrongful use of actual or threatened force, violence, or fear.. . .” 18 U.S.C. § 1951(b)(2). A number of circuits have held that the mere act of filing a lawsuit and demanding a settlement agreement, however baseless the lawsuit or settlement demand may be, does not qualify as “extortion” under § 1951. See e.g., Raney v. Allstate Ins. Co., 370 F.3d 1086, 1088 (11th Cir. 2004) (holding that the filing of baseless litigation cannot constitute § 1951 extortion); Deck v. Engineered Laminates, 349 F.3d 1253, 1258 (10th Cir. 2003) (“recogniz[ing] that litigation can induce fear in a defendant” but electing to “join a multitude of other courts in holding that meritless litigation is not extortion under § 1951″); United States v. Pendergraft, 297 F. 3d 1198, 1208 (11th Cir. 2002) (holding threats to sue a public entity cannot constitute § 1951 extortion, even where supported by false testimony and fabricated evidence); I.S. Joseph Co. v. J. Lauritzen A/S, 751 F.2d 265, 267 (8th Cir. 1984) (holding threats of groundless litigation cannot constitute extortion under § 1951). Kimberlin has therefore failed to plead the predicate act of extortion and/or attempted extortion.

    Kimberlin v. National Bloggers Club, No. GJH-13-3059 (mem. op.)(Mar. 17, 2015). Our host was among the defendants who benefited from this particular ruling.

    Beldar (fa637a)

  61. @60. Paraphrasing– “Now he’s garbage.” – Oscar Madison [Walter Matthau] ‘The Odd Couple’ 1968

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  62. Avenatti was bugged, or at least his conversations with Nike were. The charging of the two cases was co-rdinated (as was obvious, but it has been acknowledged)

    Sammy Finkelman (e70ce9)

  63. Avenatti stated on the view something to do with loving sex with handcuffs. cheers.

    mg (8cbc69)

  64. Does Patterico get the Avenatti case in La la land?

    mg (8cbc69)

  65. Please don’t bring P’s job into this discussion but I doubt it.

    DRJ (15874d)

  66. 57: yes I see and you’ve a point.

    Harcourt Fenton Mudd (5e0a82)

  67. And as much as I hate to disagree with Beldar, the power behind both indictments appears to be not David Boies and SDNY but Rod Rosenstein and “Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General Ed O’Callaghan, Rosenstein’s right-hand man”; and Avenatti’s crime is not the threat of civil or criminal litigation but the threat to “go take ten billion dollars off your client’s market cap … I’m not f—ing around”, by going public with dirt he had on Nike.

    https://www.foxnews.com/us/michael-avenatti-accused-of-trying-to-extort-nike-for-up-to-25m-feds-say As they say in my country, read the whole thing.

    nk (dbc370)

  68. sorry, had no idea it would be a issue

    mg (8cbc69)

  69. It might not but I know he prefers we avoid that topic. Plus, these are federal charges. P is a state prosecutor.

    DRJ (15874d)

  70. Trump getting even, nk?

    DRJ (15874d)

  71. @ nk (#69): Taking $10B off Nike’s market capitalization is the threatened result, but the way in which Avenatti was threatening to accomplish that result was by the public announcement of his intent to pursue, on a client’s behalf, civil litigation against Nike. That’s not extortion.

    I’ve both represented and sued publicly traded companies, and I can confirm on personal knowledge that it’s near-universal for plaintiffs’ lawyers to overtly threaten those companies’ market capitalization. Usually, it’s bluster. But occasionally, it’s not. The firm that represented Pennzoil against Texaco absolutely, positively warned Texaco’s lawyers that Pennzoil’s claim could and would bankrupt that company — a threat that was indeed made good upon. No extortion was remotely involved at any point.

    It was the Boies firm that first came to SDNY, on their client Nike’s behalf, and that released to SDNY the docs and consented to the recordings quoted in the complaint. Of course the “power” to pursue a criminal charge belongs to the DoJ. I don’t doubt that someone upstream of SDNY gave a required checkoff, and wouldn’t be surprised if O’Callaghan was enthusiastic about it. But clearly, Nike’s lawyers enlisted the feds’ interest.

    Beldar (fa637a)

  72. Not necessarily, DRJ. The stuff looks real, and even Stormy agrees with me that it sounds just like Avenatti. 😉

    nk (dbc370)

  73. Both complaints against Avenatti, in CA and NY, are in federal court, brought in the name of the People of the United States, and not in the CA state courts, where charges are brought in the name of the people of the State of California, Los Angeles County. So no, our host won’t be prosecuting Avenatti in the prosecutions announced today.

    Beldar (fa637a)

  74. Ah … DRJ’s #71 and my #75 cross-posted.

    Beldar (fa637a)

  75. I defer, Beldar.

    mg, I read that the name of the prosecutor in both the New York and California cases is Karmala. (Hint: Say it slowly out loud.)

    nk (dbc370)

  76. “You come at the king, you best not miss”

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  77. In no way is it even unusual — much less illegal extortion — to point out, as vividly as possible, to a potential target defendant whose shares are publicly traded that, as a result of the threatened litigation, its share price may drop

    Yes. But the same warnings about exposure, unconnected with any litigation, could easily be called extortion.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  78. Every settlement demand feels like extortion/blackmail if the person asked to pay thinks s/he did nothing wrong. But to be extortion, wouldn’t a settlement demand have to be based on a false claim or allegations that are untrue?

    No. For example, they could be made by a person who was unharmed, but has the dirt. Or they could be wildly unrelated to action, or the revelation might cause problems disproportionate to the action (e.g. #Metoo). If there is no connection between being made whole and the demanded amount, and the threat is not legal action but public exposure, it would seem to be extortion. But maybe the legal system protects its own.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  79. “On Monday, after the two sets of charges against Avenatti became public, Daniels said she was “saddened but not shocked” at the news.”

    Sammy… amazingly, “saddened but not shocked” were the exact words uttered by Stormy’s parents upon learning of her chosen line of work.

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  80. I agree with DRJ
    There is no reason to bring the host further into a conversation that involves Geragos, the public figure moonwalking as an attorney.

    steveg (a9dcab)

  81. Seagulls feeding on a beached whale; more colorful than a PBS Nature special– and no pledge breaks!

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  82. @81. Funny, she had similar laments ’bout ‘mushrooms,’ too.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  83. Why does the Left find lowlifes like creepy porn lawyer tax cheat extortionist Avenatti so fascinating?

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  84. He fights!

    nk (dbc370)

  85. Ha! No… he goes to prison.

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  86. They’ve never had to fight anyone, only had to keep their nails manicured for the constant belly rubs mandated by Republican doggie submission.

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  87. What does dat dreamy Jake Tapper have to say about all this?

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  88. What exactly does Geragos except ooze slime , since he represented Susan mcdougal.

    Narciso (82a663)

  89. Avenatti was a fart in a soap bubble. I said that maybe three or four “Supermoons” ago.

    A product of the #FakeNewsMedia having to maintain a 24/7 schedule of #FakeNews to sell cellular service, car insurance and pet food. Every other full moon is a Supermoon!!!1!, every blizzard in the Rockies is a Bomb Cyclone!!!1!, every cold snap is a Polar Vortex!!!1!, and every mouth that will fill in a segment between commercials is a Celebrity!!!1!.

    nk (dbc370)

  90. Hes like a bad noir character kind of James woods character in against all odds. Mueller Is like Richard widmark the seemingly respectable sort who is nothing but, he wasnt in the original out of the past but Joan Greer was.

    Narciso (82a663)

  91. Sweet Dreams – Handcuffs and leg irons on a lawyer.

    mg (8cbc69)

  92. 77- nk
    Cant touch that!

    mg (8cbc69)

  93. Thw whole extortion of Nike that avenatti is accused of took place during the week?!

    And yet this was co-ordinated with the bringing of the California charges?

    Sammy Finkelman (e70ce9)

  94. The Democrat Party principles: racism, anti-Semitism, treason, collusion with foreign powers, misogyny, bearing false witness, infanticide, rape, extortion, murder, thuggery, harassment, marxism, liberalism and socialism are all beliefs and or practices of many if not most, of their ruling class, and in many cases, their voting members.

    ….and those who practice such “principles”? The list is legion but here are a few choice names: Avenatti, antifa, Weinstein, HRCinton, WJClinton, Northam, Fairfax, Herring, Smollett, Geragos, Sharpton, Farrakhan, Franken, Kennedy, Feinstein, Pelosi, Warren, Gillibrand, Schumer, Omar, Sanders, Maher, Colbert, Booker, Harris, and last but not least….Ocasio-Cortez.

    Where Eagles Dare (8f562c)

  95. Yes take the chairman of Warner bros who was given the dedazo by anita hill along with le Moonves how many more Indians will fall?

    Narciso (82a663)

  96. @ Kevin M, who wrote (#79):

    [T]he same warnings about exposure, unconnected with any litigation, could easily be called extortion.

    Perhaps. But here, Avenatti claims to have a client who claims to have been damaged by the non-renewal of the contract. The prosecutors can’t just pretend that Avenatti called Nike up out of the blue, with no client but with some sort of dirt he’d go public with, because that’s not what happened. Because the complain admits that even the self-serving part of the settlement demand was part of a settlement demand made by a lawyer who had a client who claimed injury, I think it’s going to be dismissed as legally insufficient.

    Kevin M went on to write (#80):

    [T]hey [i.e., demands for settlement] could be made by a person who was unharmed, but has the dirt. Or they could be wildly unrelated to action, or the revelation might cause problems disproportionate to the action (e.g. #Metoo). If there is no connection between being made whole and the demanded amount, and the threat is not legal action but public exposure, it would seem to be extortion.

    If there’s a demand for “settlement,” that means some sort of payment (or the giving of other valuable consideration) in exchange for a release of potential claims and dismissal of any already pending litigation (or forbearance from ever filing it). I don’t know what kind of “settlement demand” you have in mind that would be unrelated to prospective litigation. As for “problems disproportionate to the action,” that’s very, very rarely going to be a workable or meaningful evaluation — even if the settlement being demanded is based upon a liquidated debt, for instance (like a unpaid mortgage amount), there typically are enough other variables (e.g., collection risk, reasonable & necessity of attorneys’ fees) to make it impossible for outside observers to say, “Oh, this demand is proportionate, and this one is disproportionate.” I repeat, in my experience with clients going back 40 years, something like 98% of those being sued (or countersued) have believed, at least to begin with, that the other side’s settlement demand seemed wildly disproportionate.

    And this really isn’t a question of lawyers trying to immunize other lawyers from criminal activity, like we think we ought to be able to get away with extortion which would be illegal for everyone else. The entire civil justice system would instantly grind to a complete halt if we criminalized settlement negotiations. Treating civil litigation demands as criminal extortion is a spectacularly bad idea — a genuinely Stalinist prospect that would radically reduce liberty. There are really good policy reasons that state and federal courts have resisted such efforts — not to protect lawyers, but to promote justice for the litigants.

    There are other, much better forms of the comeuppance for a lawyer like Avenatti. Prosecuting him for extortion is a cure worse than the disease.

    Beldar (fa637a)

  97. Don’t remember where I saw it earlier but someone had a screenshot of an Avenatti tweet where he boasted he was “living rent-free in Trump’s head”.

    Followed by the comment:

    “You’re could be living somewhere else rent-free very soon”
    __ _

    Wonder how all those who were saying he should run in 2020 feel now.
    __

    harkin (61b436)

  98. @ harkin, who asked (#100):

    Wonder how all those who were saying he should run in 2020 feel now.

    You can’t shame the shameless, so: Same as yesterday, pretty much. CNN’s talent scouts producers are probably interviewing new hotshot Hard Left lawyers even as we speak, there being no shortage — alas! — of would-be Avenatti (ver. 2.0)s out there.

    Beldar (fa637a)

  99. Poll: How many days will Trump go before he steps on his crank bigtime?

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  100. 97 2016 finished off the clintonista corporate establishment democrats ruling democrat party. mueller just finished off whats left of the corporate establishment democrats like pelosi, schumer, schift and the other liberal establishment democrats. hope you like a democrat party run by aoc and ilmar oman. the corporate establishment deep state doesn’t and will push beto to get the nomination as biden would be another clinton and tear the democratic party apart.

    lany (b35d8d)

  101. Well i have to say that it is more than the we all are expect and have a great impact on us..surely you have good
    source of information out there..
    Entertainment Unit

    eve green (a35d15)

  102. My sense is that Avenatti will raise the “settlement offer” defense in the SDNY case, but any motion to dismiss will be denied. The SDNY press release (admittedly one-sided) seems to focus on the threatened press conference and the threat to reveal criminal activity. So I think a judge will likely say it is a factual issue for trial. The SDNY US Attorney’s office is very sophisticated, and almost certainly thought about the issue before bringing the indictment.

    Bored Lawyer (998177)

  103. Yesterday was the best day ever–first the Mueller report and now this–and they announced the indictment just minutes after this nitwit tweeted out his intent to have a press conference on the Nike thing–will California finally disbar this guy?

    Rochf (877dba)

  104. 102… could be as soon as today.

    Me, I’m waiting for a post that calls for a special counsel to investigate the behavior of the FBI, CIA, DOJ, and State Department during the Obama Administration.

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  105. Not only California, but every jurisdiction in which he is licensed. Like Beldar said, the surest way for a lawyer to lose his license is to steal a client’s money.

    The bank fraud, if proven, is not small potatoes, either. He is looking at a serious felony, with a serious custodial sentence, and serious collateral disabilities including being barred from the practice of law.

    nk (dbc370)

  106. I want a special counsel to investigate the state crime indictments brought against Paul Manafort by the State of New York. They smack of malice and vindictiveness, a violation of prosecutorial ethics and of Manafort’s civil rights, and a conspiracy by Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance to deprive the people of New York of his honest services for political, and possibly financial, gain.

    nk (dbc370)

  107. “with a serious custodial sentence“

    Dammit, nk, I don’t want the SOB pushing a broom, I want him to be fighting off Bubba and fearing for his life!

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  108. the surest way for a lawyer to lose his license is to steal a client’s money.

    Yup. That part, if true, is the kiss of death. When I practiced in NJ, the NJ Supreme Court had a per se rule about this. It then wrote an opinion where someone asked them to reconsider that rule, and they said no. You steal 5 cents from a client, you will never be a lawyer again.

    Bored Lawyer (998177)

  109. BREAKING NBC News reports: Prosecutors drop charges against Jussie Smollett.

    ROFLMAO

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  110. Geragos may have worked out a deal with the feds to mitigate his exposure by rolling over on Avenatti. Or, the evidence against him is weaker than that against Avenatti, who put his threats into emails.

    AZ Bob (885937)

  111. Smollett minces!

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  112. @102. Less than one.

    “He’s vindictive as hell, Henry. He kills for pride.” – Kid Twist [Harold Gould] ‘The Sting’ 1973

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  113. Well that puts my Turning Point swag falling into the wrong hands theory back in play. That or he’s flipping on Avs in the Nike case and much more. I had to be talked out of advocating for a greenlight after this, though:

    http://abc7chicago.com/police-search-for-3rd-suspect-in-shooting-of-cpd-officer-john-rivera/5217725/

    urbanleftbehind (8b84bd)

  114. It is fitting… https://youtu.be/3Dy1C95p00E

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  115. Well Jack London called it the city in the abyss that was before prohibition

    Narciso (b3b641)

  116. BREAKING NBC News reports: Prosecutors drop charges against Jussie Smollett.
    ROFLMAO

    “Hey, kid, you gotta know the righta peoples. Ifa you know the righta peoples, everythinga come uppa roses.” — Vito “Cool Lips” Chericola, Chicago’s Mafia Boss (fictional)

    nk (dbc370)

  117. I went to high school with his current publicist, BTW. Not that I ever talked to her, then or since.

    nk (dbc370)

  118. DCSCA @ 112:

    BREAKING NBC News reports: Prosecutors drop charges against Jussie Smollett.
    ROFLMAO

    nk @ 119:

    “Hey, kid, you gotta know the righta peoples. Ifa you know the righta peoples, everythinga come uppa roses.” — Vito “Cool Lips” Chericola, Chicago’s Mafia Boss (fictional)

    And who’s the right person?

    The Wall Street Journal reports that the alleged co-conspirator with Michael Avenatti in the federal extortion case is celebrity attorney Mark Geragos.

    Geragos is a CNN legal analyst and also represents Jussie Smollett

    Geragos was not charged along with Avenatti.

    (Now there could still be a secret indictment or continuing investigation, of course.)

    It almost sounds like Avenatti made the wrong enemies – or friends (who didn’t want to be linked to him any more. Throw him overboard!)

    Sammy Finkelman (e70ce9)

  119. I guess r Kelley is the next little Indian sprung.

    Narciso (b3b641)

  120. This is a black eye for both the Chicago PD and the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.

    nk (dbc370)

  121. From the criminal complaint, it sounds like the basis for the extortion could be, not the threatened lawsuit, but the threatened press conference, as Avenatti wanted a multi-million dollar settlement agreed to or else he would hold a press conference.

    In any case, the prosecutors tried to insure themselves by rushing to completion a California investigation.

    Now who put the two groups of prosecutors together?

    Who put this Nike case together? ZFrom beginning to end it took one week.

    Avenatti’s firm, by the way, declared bankruptcy many times, the last time on March 7

    Sammy Finkelman (e70ce9)

  122. It has been a queer story from the beginning.

    nk (dbc370)

  123. Smolette is about to hold a press conference. The Rush Limbaugh show may gyp some of that and ot might be otehr places. Smolett I think I heard earlier was playing this as vindication while he prosecutor said nothing, but Rush said the charges are not being dropped on the grounds he is innocent, but on grounds that paying $10,000 and community service is punishment enough. This was negotiated.

    Sammy Finkelman (e70ce9)

  124. Rush is right, Sammy.

    Cook County State’s Attorney has dropped the charges against actor Jussie Smollett.

    Here’s what prosecutors said in a statement:

    “After reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the case, including Mr. Smollett’s volunteer service in the community and agreement to forfeit his bond to the City of Chicago, we believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to this case.”

    Except that the City of Chicago will only get $9,000. The Clerk Of The Circuit Court will keep $1,000 as the bond fee.

    nk (dbc370)

  125. The $10,000 is simply forfeiting his bond. The “community service” is something Smolett was doing anyway.

    Sammy Finkelman (e70ce9)

  126. So, the big story of 2018 was “there was a massive conspiracy to spread fake news in order to change the course of the 2016 election.” The Democrats even claim it makes the Trump presidency illegitimate.

    But it turns out that this big story was itself a massive conspiracy to spread fake news in order to change the course of the 2018 election. Which it clearly did.

    Does this mean that the 2018 election was corrupted by fake news, spread by the winning side, and that the House majority and many state legislatures and governors are illegitimate as a result? It’s not a simple question, but it is probably a necessary one.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  127. I made a similar deal one time on a gun case. A nolle prosse with a Confiscate And Destroy Order and my demand for trial on the record to keep the speedy trial statute running so that the case could not be reinstated after 160 days. But my client was not rich, famous or politically connected, and he got his bond (all $90.00) refunded to him.

    nk (dbc370)

  128. Actually theres no evidence he has done any community service.

    Narciso (b3b641)

  129. Judge Napolitano is even more full of fasoli than he was when he predicted that Avenatti would not be released on bond. (He was released on a $300,000 recognizance (no cash deposit) bond. This is definitely not “unheard of”. It’s actually pretty common. In a big jurisdiction like Cook County, 90% of the cases are resolved through some kind of deal.

    nk (dbc370)

  130. Post on Jussie Smollett story is now up.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  131. https://lawandcrime.com/high-profile/he-was-a-victim-who-was-vilified-jussie-smollett-cleared-of-all-charges

    Smollett continues to stand by his original story.

    The statement from his legal team also chastised the media and authorities for blaming the victim:

    Today all criminal charges against Jussie Smollett were dropped and his record has been wiped clean of the filing of this tragic complaint against him. Jussie was attacked by two people he was unable to identify on January 29th. He was a victim who was vilified and made to appear as a perpetrator as a result of false and inappropriate remarks made to the public causing an inappropriate rush to judgement [sic].

    “Jussie and many others were hurt by these unfair and unwarranted actions,” the statement continued. “This entire situation is a reminder that there should never be an attempt to prove a case in the court of public opinion. That is wrong. It is a reminder that a victim, in this case Jussie, deserves dignity and respect. Dismissal of charges against the victim in this case were the only just result. Jussie is relieved to have this situation behind him and is very much looking forward to getting back to focusing on his family, friends and career.” …

    Rush Limbaugh says that if you believe Jusse Smolett, the Chicago policr framed him, and it makes the police look corrupt. But Smolett’s lawyers just claim arush to judgment, and don’t go into the evidence.

    Sammy Finkelman (e70ce9)

  132. @123. Clouseau City: what goes around comes around. A little ice or chuck steak might help on those eyes. There’s still a ‘who done it’ to resolve…

    “I believe everything and I believe nothing. I suspect everyone and I suspect no one.” – Inspector Clouseau [Peter Sellers] ‘A Shot In The Dark’ 1964

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  133. Even the emergency motion part is not suspicious. He may have needed to have the case cleared so he could leave the state, or the country, for work. I have done that too — advanced a case to allow my client to travel before the scheduled trial date.

    nk (dbc370)

  134. Actually theres no evidence he has done any community service.

    That you and I know of, but “they” know which political fundraisers he bought tickets for and what other campaign contribution checks he signed.

    nk (dbc370)

  135. 108:

    Yes! The investigating agency in the California action appears to be the one that makes all the saliva in your mouth dry up. The criminal division of the IRS. And as befits the IRS, the investigation is not a slap dash of current day: it dates back before the 2016 election.

    Less glamorous than the Nike matter, for sure, but the allegations assert in part: not filing tax returns for 2010, and 2011; (that sounds bad for a “big time” lawyer), using fake returns from those years to get a loan from a federally insured institution; and the use of the money.

    PLUS alleged defrauding of a client.

    Plus what might be systematic underpayment of withholding taxes owed to the feds. Way harder to evade it seems to me.

    I suppose at some point the state bar will set aside whatever new speech code its assessing for lawyers, and take a look at this.

    Harcourt Fenton Mudd (5e0a82)

  136. Harcourt Fenton Mudd (5e0a82) — 3/26/2019 @ 10:17 am:

    in part: not filing tax returns for 2010, and 2011; (that sounds bad for a “big time” lawyer), using fake returns from those years to get a loan from a federally insured institution;

    I read it was sending abank afalse return – didn’t realize that the reason he did it is that he had not filed a return for those years. It probably didn’t even overstate his income.

    With regard to providing someone else a false return, I wonder why people are so sure a crooked politician wouldn’t do that. When it comes to a college transcript, it’s not considered reliable unless you get it sealed from the college. People can ask the IRS for a “transcript” (line by line report of what was on that tax return)

    Sammy Finkelman (e70ce9)

  137. Ubderpayment of withholding taxes could mean he withheld taxes from his employees, but then used the money before or instead of sending it to the IRS. This happens fairly frequently with failing businesses.

    A business is allowed to “borrow” that money – it doesn’t have to be held in escrow – but they’d better send it to the Treasury at the end of 90 days. The Treasury just simply doesn’t want a check every two weeks or more and they don’t charge interest if it isn’t sent so frequently.

    And they take the risk.

    Sammy Finkelman (e70ce9)

  138. 140: It apparently got to the point of an agent making continuous inquiries-in person-along the line of “where is the money?,” and an ultimate determination that the amount owed and unpaid is north of $2m.

    Harcourt Fenton Mudd (5e0a82)

  139. Avenatti’s defense, according to his interview on TV, seems to be about this:

    1) With regard to Nike, he said always insisted that the federal authrorities be notified. (the catch is, he was threatening to alert the general public in a way calculated to do the most to drop the stock market price of Nike.)

    Nike says it has been co-operating for ayear and the NCAA told him to tell the feds if he has any forst hand information.

    2) With regard to the embezzlement, the person whose money he may have taken was a crook, and he says even more of a crook than he thought at the time.

    3) With regard to the bank applications, he didn’t say anything.

    Sammy Finkelman (102c75)

  140. When you’ve lost the Dog Trainer …. For Michael Avenatti, a luxury lifestyle built on a purported house of cards:

    Avenatti’s courtroom adversaries — and there are many — have long described him as an untrustworthy foe with a history of unpaid bills, delinquent taxes, scorched-earth feuds with fellow barristers and elaborate bank maneuvers to cover up assets from pleading creditors.

    Now, the full weight of the U.S. government is backing up that portrayal in a criminal complaint lodged in federal court in Santa Ana. Perhaps the most stunning revelation: At the same time he became an internationally recognizable celebrity attorney, prosecutors allege, Avenatti was stealing $1.6 million that a client had won in a legal settlement.

    If true, said Andrew Stolper, one of three lawyers who bolted Avenatti’s law practice in a 2015 dispute, his conduct “is as brazen as it is stupid.”

    “You would think that someone with those skeletons in his closet would try to maintain a low profile,” Stolper said. “Stealing client money, not paying taxes. The question is why was he doing this? You don’t have to search very far to see that he was trying to support a lifestyle that was unsupportable.”

    Beldar (fa637a)

  141. Miss Clare Bronfman, had a strong reaction to suggestion, that avenatti not geragos was defending her,

    narciso (d1f714)

  142. 145… Normally, it would be. However, these critters don’t embarrass easy.

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  143. Michael Avenatti didn’t file income taxes since 2010, and ddin’t pay anything since 2008.

    Sammy Finkelman (e70ce9)

  144. So, is this good news or bad news for Biden’s campaign? On the one hand he might be less sleezy than this guy but on the other he’s less sleezy than this guys. Maybe, Avenatti will decide not to run in 2020.

    frosty48 (6226c1)

  145. Avenatti already decided not to run.

    And he was toying with it, knowing that he hadn’t filed income tax returns since the 2010 tax year!

    No problem, I guess, since he could always release or show reporters fake returns never filed, like he did with a bank or two, and the IRS would be legally barred from revealing that, because of the Privacy Act. (would attemptng to look at his returns be considerd a poltical act by anyone in the IRS?)

    Sammy Finkelman (e70ce9)


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