Michael Avenatti may have teamed up with Jussie Smollett’s attorney Mark Geragos in his alleged attempt to extort Nike, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.
Smollett, an actor from the show “Empire,” caught national attention earlier this year after he allegedly faked a hate crime. He claimed that MAGA hat-wearing Trump supporters who were carrying a noose assaulted him in Chicago.
As IJR previously reported, the Chicago Police Department charged Smollett for faking the police report after two men told police Smollett had hired them to commit the act. Smollett has yet to have his day in court and remains innocent until proven guilty.
However, his defense plan may have just gotten a bit more complicated.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Smollett’s attorney, Mark Geragos, may have been Avenatti’s co-conspirator in the alleged attempted extortion of Nike.
As IJR reported earlier, Avenatti — who rose to fame representing adult film star Stormy Daniels in her legal efforts against President Donald Trump — is facing charges in both California and New York.
The U.S. attorney in California is charging the lawyer with wire fraud and bank fraud for allegedly lying to clients about their money to use it for his personal debts. In New York, Avenatti is facing charges for trying to extort upwards of $20 million from Nike over a “college basketball” scandal he planned to reveal in a press conference on Tuesday.
Tmrw at 11 am ET, we will be holding a press conference to disclose a major high school/college basketball scandal perpetrated by @Nike that we have uncovered. This criminal conduct reaches the highest levels of Nike and involves some of the biggest names in college basketball.
— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) March 25, 2019
In the New York case, Avenatti allegedly told Nike that it needed to pay his client $1.5 million to bury a scandal. He also allegedly tried to force Nike to hire him and Geragos to conduct an “internal investigation” for somewhere between $15 and $25 million.
Several people could not believe the odds that Avenatti — a longtime foe of Trump — and Smollett’s attorney would be accused of extortion within 24 hours of Attorney General William Barr announcing the findings of the Mueller report, largely exonerating Trump.
"Jussie Smollett's lawyer reportedly co-conspirator in Michael Avenatti's Nike extortion scheme" is quite the addition to this 2019 mad-lib https://t.co/XBEuiuhskR
— Allan Smith (@akarl_smith) March 25, 2019
Can't make this stuff up. Michael Avenatti's co-conspirator is being reported as Mark Geragos, who just happens to be Jussie Smollett's lawyer.
— Matt Glantz (@MattGlantz) March 25, 2019
So you're telling us that the attorney for Jussie Smollett and Michael Jackson might not be on the up and up? https://t.co/Q9NFlmDPVi
— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) March 25, 2019
Wall Street Journal reports that the co-conspirator in the Nike extortion scheme is Mark Geragos, who recently represented Colin Kaepernick, a Nike endorser, in his collusion case against the NFL.
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) March 25, 2019
Beyond his controversial legal career, Geragos is also a legal analyst for CNN. It remains to be seen what is in store legally for both Avenatti and Geragos.