High-profile attorney Mark Geragos is Michael Avenatti’s co-conspirator in an alleged extortion scheme unveiled Monday by federal prosecutors, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Geragos represents Empire actor Jussie Smollett, who is accused of staging a hate crime against himself. Geragos was the lead attorney in the grievance filed by Colin Kaepernick against the NFL. In which the former 49er accused the NFL of collusion, in an attempt to keep him from re-entering the league as punishment for the anthem protests he began in 2016. He is also a CNN legal analyst. It is unknown whether Geragos, who was not named in the criminal complaint, has been arrested or cooperating with investigators.
Avenatti, who shot to fame by representing adult film star Stormy Daniels, was arrested on Monday after being accused of trying to extort money from Nike and embezzling a client’s money.
Details about the accusations — contained in separate cases filed in New York and Los Angeles — were to be disclosed at press conferences in both cities.
The celebrity lawyer represented Daniels in her lawsuit against President Donald Trump and his former lawyer Michael Cohen.
According to the complaint filed in New York and involving Nike, the celebrity lawyer “devised a scheme to extort a company by means of an interstate communication by threatening to damage the company’s reputation if the company did not agree to make multi-million-dollar payments to Avenatti and his co-conspirator, and further agree to pay an additional $1.5 million to a client of Avenatti’s.”
The complaint states that Avenatti, 48, and his co-conspirator met with attorneys for Nike on March 19 and threatened to disclose damaging information about the company unless it made the payments.
The following day, in a phone conversation with the attorneys, Avenatti stated that if his demands were not met he would “take 10 billion dollars off your client’s market cap … I’m not fucking around,” according to the complaint.
Less than an hour before his arrest in New York was announced, Avenatti tweeted that he would be holding a press conference on Tuesday 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,” he added.
It was not clear what potential scandal he might have been referring to.
According to the complaint filed in Los Angeles, Avenatti — who had once entertained the possibility of running for president — embezzled a client’s money in order to pay his own expenses and debts and also defrauded a bank by using phony tax returns to obtain millions of dollars in loans.
The AFP contributed to this report.