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Avenatti set for trial(s)
Former thorn in Donald Trump’s side and very much ex-omnipresence on our television screens and at the side of former client and alleged past-Trumpian paramour Stormy Daniels – attorney Michael Avenatti – had a bad day in court today.
A New York judge rejected Avenatti’s bid to dismiss a criminal charge that he defrauded a client whom he said knew about improper payments that sportswear giant Nike allegedly made to families of college basketball recruits.
US district judge Paul Gardephe in Manhattan ruled three days after refusing to dismiss two extortion charges accusing Avenatti of threatening a news conference about the payments unless Nike paid him up to $25 million.
Nike has denied wrongdoing.
“When the actual evidence is heard at trial rather than the baseless allegations in the indictment, I will be fully cleared because I did nothing wrong,” Avenatti, 48, said in a text message. “I am innocent,” Reuters reports.
The fraud count and one extortion count carry maximum 20-year prison terms, with the trial scheduled for January 21.
Avenatti also faces an April 21 trial in Manhattan for allegedly cheating StormyDaniels out of proceeds from a book contract, and a May 19 trial in Santa Ana, California for allegedly defrauding clients out of millions of dollars and lying to the Internal Revenue Service. Avenatti denies all the charges.
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