A celebrity attorney who has represented Hollywood stars like “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett was named as a co-conspirator in charges alleging Michael Avenatti extorted Nike, according to multiple news outlets.
Avenatti on Monday was arrested and charged in connection with a scheme to extort millions of dollars from Nike under threat of revealing damaging information at a press conference. Celebrity attorney Mark Geragos joined Avenatti in a March 19 meeting in New York with Nike lawyers to make the threat, according to The Wall Street Journal, which cited two people familiar with the matter.
“A few million dollars doesn’t move the needle for me. I’m just being really frank with you,” charging documents from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York quote Avenatti as saying. “So if that’s what — if that’s what’s being contemplated, then let’s just say it was good to meet you, and we’re done. And I’ll proceed with my press conference tomorrow.”
Geragos has represented numerous celebrities, including Smollett, who was charged earlier this month on 16 felony counts alleging he lied to police after claiming to be the victim of a racist and homophobic assault.
The attorney has also represented actress Winona Ryder and former NFL player Colin Kaepernick. He was initially hired as Michael Jackson’s lawyer in the singer’s 2003 molestation case before being removed in 2004.