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Many North Carolina residents have become acquainted with celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti after his numerous TV appearances as the attorney for Stormy Daniels, the adult film star who sued President Donald Trump. However, Avenatti is now facing his own legal difficulties after being hit with federal indictments in several separate cases. On March 25, Avenatti was arrested for allegedly attempting to extort millions of dollars from athletic company Nike. This came on top of a separate federal case moving forward in Los Angeles, where he is accused of misappropriating client funds and defrauding a bank to obtain loans.

Federal prosecutors claim that Avenatti attempted to induce Nike to pay him $15 to $25 million in bogus legal fees in exchange for him not releasing damaging information tying the company to a bribery scandal involving the families of top prep athletes. They released excerpts of conversations, purportedly between Avenatti and Nike's lawyers, in which Avenatti threatened to reveal the information if he was not paid the funds requested. He said that he had the power to drive down Nike's stock price through a public campaign if he was not paid. After making an initial tweet about the subject, however, Avenatti was arrested only 15 minutes later on extortion charges.

In the separate case, Avenatti is accused of embezzling a client's money that was part of a settlement agreement. Rather than forwarding the funds to the client, Avenatti allegedly altered the settlement documents in order to use the funds to cover debts he owed for a coffee business he owned.

Federal crimes can carry hefty prison sentences. In both of the aforementioned cases, Avenatti could face up to 100 years in prison if convicted. However, an individual facing federal charges can work with a criminal defense attorney to challenge prosecutor assertions and defend their rights.

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