Avenatti accused by US of trying to extort Nike

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California lawyer Michael Avenatti was charged by federal prosecutors in New York with attempting to extort millions of dollars out of Nike Inc. by threatening to release damaging information about the company, which did not meet his demands. 

Avenatti is alleged to have told Nike that he would cancel a press conference critical of the sports-apparel company only if it paid an unidentified client $1.5 million, and hired him and another California lawyer to conduct an internal investigation for $15 million to $25 million.

Avenatti on Monday posted a tweet saying we would be holding a press conference to disclose a "major high school/college basketball scandal" perpetrated by Nike that he claimed to have uncovered. "This criminal conduct reaches the highest levels of Nike and involves some of the biggest names in college basketball," Avenatti said in the tweet.

Prosecutors in Los Angeles are scheduled to hold a press conference later on Monday. Nike didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.

Nike pared a decline that followed Avenatti's announcement of a planned press conference, and the stock was trading down 0.3 percent at 1:16 p.m. in New York.

The charges mark a steep downfall for a lawyer who rose to fame last year as the attorney for Stormy Daniels, an adult-film actress who claimed to have an affair with Donald Trump more than a decade ago.

Avenatti is accused of wire fraud and bank fraud. He was arrested Monday, prosecutors said.

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Bloomberg's Nick Turner contributed to this report. 

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