By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Michael Avenatti used to be crooked on a mountainous payday when he demanded thousands and thousands of bucks for himself from Nike Inc, a federal prosecutor told jurors on Wednesday in his opening argument on the extortion trial of the huge title approved knowledgeable and famed critic of U.S. President Donald Trump.

But a approved knowledgeable for Avenatti countered that the place a query to used to be merely fragment of negotiations on behalf of Avenatti’s client, Gary Franklin, a basketball coach in a Nike-subsidized youth basketball league, and that Avenatti may per chance well doubtless no longer be held criminally liable.

„It’s proper. Mr. Avenatti is brash,“ his approved knowledgeable Howard Srebnick told the six-man, six-lady jury in Lengthy island federal court. „Tenacious, bullish, laborious charging … Now and then he’ll be offensive. But that is no longer what we place people in prison for.“

Avenatti used to be charged with threatening to publicize his client’s accusations that Nike illegally paid households of faculty basketball recruits, until the apparel firm paid $15 million to $25 million for him and massive title approved knowledgeable Ticket Geragos to habits an interior probe, and paid Franklin $1.5 million.

Prosecutors also charged Avenatti with defrauding Franklin by concealing a settlement offer from Nike, in command that Avenatti may per chance well doubtless glance thousands and thousands for himself.

Nike has denied wrongdoing. The trial may per chance well doubtless final 2-1/2 weeks, and Avenatti may per chance well doubtless face better than 40 years in prison if convicted.

Avenatti grew to turn into renowned representing grownup movie actress Stormy Daniels in court cases against Trump, and Srebnick and Assistant U.S. Felony knowledgeable Robert Sobelman mentioned every of their opening arguments.

Sobelman told jurors that Avenatti leveraged his standing to „shake down“ Nike and „line his comprise pockets,“ in fragment because he had astronomical money owed and his regulation agency used to be struggling financially.

The prosecutor told jurors they would hear recordings made at Nike’s behest of Avenatti making his requires.

„Why did the defendant dangle what he did? Straightforward. Cash,“ Sobelman mentioned.

Srebnick countered that Avenatti used to be merely combating for „a consumer who significant justice“ by exposing corruption in youth basketball, and who significant a excessive-profile approved knowledgeable to aid him.

„He had a platform to roar what came about at Nike,“ Srebnick mentioned, pointing several times at his client.

Avenatti looked in jurors‘ route for nearly all of Srebnick’s argument. Most all in favour of Srebnick.

Later this year, Avenatti faces separate legal trials in Lengthy island for allegedly defrauding Daniels out of e book contract proceeds, and in California for defrauding other possibilities.

Avenatti used to be jailed and had bail revoked after his Jan. 14 arrest for an alleged bail violation in the California case. He’s interesting the revocation.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in Unique York; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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