A high-profile criminal defense lawyer who has represented celebrities like Jussie Smollett and Colin Kaepernick was named as a co-conspirator in the extortion charges against Michael Avenatti, according to The Wall Street Journal.
What charges? Avenatti was charged with attempting to extort more than $20 million from Nike. In a separate case, Avenatti was also charged with wire fraud and bank fraud for allegedly embezzling money from a client to cover his own debts.
Avenatti is accused of telling Nike that he and an unnamed co-conspirator (reportedly Mark Geragos) would release damaging information about Nike if the company didn't pay them millions.
Mr. Avenatti said that if his demands weren't met, "I'll go take ten billion dollars off your client's market cap. … I'm not f—ing around."
How did this happen? Avenatti and Geragos allegedly met with Nike lawyers on March 19, and made the extortion threat during that meeting. The criminal complaint says Avenatti and Geragos asked for millions of dollars for themselves and $1.5 million to an alleged client of Avenatti's.
More about Geragos: Geragos represented "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett, who was charged with 16 felony counts for allegedly inventing a hoax hate crime by people he claimed were Trump supporters and lying to police about it.
In another of Geragos' high-profile recent cases, the attorney represented former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick in his grievance against the NFL. Kaepernick, who recently settled with the league, had claimed the NFL owners and commissioner colluded to blackball him in retaliation for Kaepernick's protests during the national anthem.
Geragos was briefly Michael Jackson's attorney in the late pop singer's 2003 molestation case, which has resurfaced into public discussion due to the release of the "Leaving Neverland" documentary.
Geragos served as a legal analyst for CNN, although the network said Monday that he is no longer a contributor.