NEW YORK (Reuters) – US prosecutors on Monday rejected Michael Avenatti’s claim that he was overwhelmed with large amounts of material for the January 21 trial accusing the famous lawyer of trying to extort Nike Inc, and that the material should be excluded or the trial delayed by 30 days.
FILE PHOTO: Attorney Michael Avenatti leaves the United States Court in the Manhattan district of New York City, USA. UU., October 8, 2019. REUTERS / Brendan McDermid / File Photo
In a presentation Sunday night at the federal court in Manhattan, Avenatti’s lawyers had said the recent “document dump” of prosecutors, which included more than 13,800 pages of documents and an iPhone from the former office manager of Avenatti, he had “severely impaired” his client’s ability to prepare for trial.
In response, Deputy Federal Prosecutor Matthew Podolsky said there were no delays in the delivery of the documents, even “to obtain some type of advantage.”
He also accused Avenatti of trying to use the documents as part of “an inappropriate effort to blame the victim,” Nike, and “distract the jury from the only question before him: the defendant’s guilt.”
Federal District Judge Paul Gardephe oversees the Avenatti case and will decide what should be done.
Avenatti became known for representing the porn star Stormy Daniels and for criticizing the president of the United States, Donald Trump.
He was accused of threatening to hold a press conference about Nike’s alleged improper payments to college basketball recruits unless the sportswear company paid his client, youth basketball coach Gary Franklin, $ 1.5 million and He paid Avenatti up to $ 25 million to conduct an internal investigation.
Prosecutors also accused Avenatti of not telling Franklin that Nike offered to resolve the coach’s claims without paying Avenatti, which cost the lawyer money.
Avenatti has pleaded not guilty. Nike has denied acting badly.
In his presentation, Avenatti also said that evidence to support prosecutors’ claim that he had at least $ 15 million in debt when he dealt with Nike, which gave him a possible reason to extort, could “overwhelm the trial” and should be excluded
He cited, among other things, the prosecutors’ plan to call a former divorce lawyer for his separated wife as a witness.
Prosecutors responded that Avenatti made his finances a problem, in part by offering his biography as part of his defense.
“It is clear that the defendant has full intention in the trial to suggest, if not directly argue, that he was a successful lawyer who had no reason to commit a financially motivated crime,” Podolsky wrote. “That suggestion would be false.”
Avenatti has denied having debts for millions.
The case is U.S. v. Avenatti, US District Court. UU., Southern District of New York, No. 19-cr-00373.
Jonathan Stempel’s report in New York; edition by Nick Macfie and David Gregorio