Lawyer Michael Avenatti charged

By Veronica Rocha, Meg Wagner, Jessie Yeung and Brian Ries, CNN

Updated 7:18 PM ET, Tue March 26, 2019
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3:51 p.m. ET, March 25, 2019

Attorney Mark Geragos is the unnamed co-conspirator in the Avenatti criminal complaint

From CNN's Kara Scannell

Kevork Djansezian\Getty Images
Kevork Djansezian\Getty Images

Attorney Mark Geragos is the unnamed co-conspirator referred to in the Southern District of New York's criminal complaint against Michael Avenatti, a source familiar confirms to CNN.

The complaint described the co-conspirator as "an attorney licensed in California who's known for his representation of celebrity and public figure clients."

Geragos has not been charged with a crime. 

The Wall Street Journal was the first to report that Geragos was the unnamed co-conspirator. 

Geragos did not immediately respond to CNN's request for comment. 

Geragos, who has represented a number of high profile clients including Chris Brown and Jussie Smollett, was a CNN contributor. 

Avenatti was arrested this morning outside of the offices of Boies Schiller Flexner LLP in Manhattan, according to a source. 

A Nike lawyer, who cooperated with the investigation and is referred to as "Attorney-1" in in the charges, is Boies Schiller Flexner LLP partner Scott Wilson, according to a person familiar with the matter.

3:30 p.m. ET, March 25, 2019

Nike says it "will not be extorted"

From CNN’s Alison Kosik

Nike released a statement today after prosecutors in New York announced charges against attorney Michael Avenatti for attempting to extort more than $20 million from the company.

Read the statement:

"Nike will not be extorted or hide information that is relevant to a government investigation. Nike has been cooperating with the government’s investigation into NCAA basketball for over a year. When Nike became aware of this matter, Nike immediately reported it to federal prosecutors. When Mr. Avenatti attempted to extort Nike over this matter, Nike with the assistance of outside counsel at Boies Schiller Flexner, aided the investigation. Nike firmly believes in ethical and fair play, both in business and sports, and will continue to assist the prosecutors.”
3:06 p.m. ET, March 25, 2019

Avenatti's alleged scheme against Nike was "an old-fashioned shakedown," US attorney says

Geoffrey Berman, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, laid out the timeline of attorney Michael Avenatti's alleged extortion scheme, which Berman said played out over a course of less than a week.

The scheme began on March 19 with a meeting with Nike, where Avenatti claimed that he had a client who had information about potential misconduct by the company. Avenatti threatened to hold a news conference at which he would make the allegations public. 

Avenatti met with Nike again the next day, and he continued to make what Berman described as "graphic threats." 

At the end of his meeting on March 2, Avenatti and Nike agreed that there would be one final meeting, which was set to take place today. 

After Thursday's meeting, Avenatti issued a tweet with a veiled threat to Nike.

"This was Avenatti's shot across the bow," Berman said. 

Berman made it clear that by engaging in this type of conduct, Avenatti was not acting as an attorney. 

"A suit and tie doesn't mask the fact that at its core this was an old-fashioned shakedown" he said. 

Avenatti was arrested in Manhattan, at the location where Monday morning's meeting with Nike was supposed to happen, William Sweeney, assistant director-in-charge of the New York's FBI office, told reporters. 

2:48 p.m. ET, March 25, 2019

The FBI monitored and recorded Avenatti's threats against Nike

The Southern District of New York tweeted a timeline of the Avenatti case on Monday afternoon, outlining the events from March 19 to 21.

According to the timeline, Avenatti made the initial threats to Nike on March 19. Shortly afterward, Nike informed federal prosecutors in New York of the threats.

After that, interactions between Avenatti and Nike were recorded and monitored by the FBI, US Attorney Geoffrey Berman said.

“By engaging in the conduct alleged in the complaint, Avenatti was not acting as an attorney. A suit and tie doesn’t mask the fact that at its core, this was an old-fashioned shakedown," Berman said.

2:41 p.m. ET, March 25, 2019

Avenatti faces up to 50 years in prison if convicted of both charges in California case

If convicted on both charges of wire fraud and bank fraud in California, attorney Michael Avenatti will face a statutory maximum sentence of 50 years in federal prison, said US attorney Nick Hanna at a press conference Monday afternoon.

2:33 p.m. ET, March 25, 2019

California and New York coordinated Avenatti's arrest, but the cases are separate

US Attorney Nick Hanna said that while the California case against attorney Michael Avenatti is "completely separate" from the New York case, officials coordinated his arrest today.

"We coordinated the arrest for operational reasons," he said. "These were two separate investigations, but we coordinated the arrest."

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan have charged Avenatti for attempting to extort more than $20 million from Nike. Meanwhile, prosecutors in California charged him for wire and bank fraud.

2:27 p.m. ET, March 25, 2019

Next, there's another news conference in New York

Federal Law enforcement officials will hold a news conference in New York at 2:30 p.m. ET to announce additional charges against Michael Avenatti for attempting to extract more than $20 million in payments from Nike.

The New York news conference comes as federal prosecutors in California wrap up their own briefing.

Avenatti is facing wire and bank fraud charges in the California case, which is separate from the New York case.

2:25 p.m. ET, March 25, 2019

US attorney in California calls Avenatti "a corrupt lawyer"

Nick Hanna, US attorney for the Central District of California
Nick Hanna, US attorney for the Central District of California

Nick Hanna, US attorney for the Central District of California, spoke at the press conference on Monday afternoon, describing "a series of allegations that paint an ugly picture of lawless conduct and greed."

Avenatti, who is charged in California for wire fraud and bank fraud, was "a corrupt lawyer who instead fights for his own selfish interests by misappropriating close to a million dollars that rightfully belonged to one of his clients," Hanna said.

Avenatti allegedly used those embezzled funds to pay expenses at his coffee business, Global Baristas US LLC, which prosecutors said operates Tully’s Coffee stores in California and Washington.

Avenatti also allegedly secured bank loans worth millions of dollars by submitting false personal income tax returns, never filed federal income tax returns for years, and never paid the federal income tax reflected on the false returns, Hanna said.

2:26 p.m. ET, March 25, 2019

NOW: Federal law enforcement officials announce Avenatti charges in California

Federal prosecutors in Los Angeles are currently detailing the charges of wire fraud and bank fraud they filed against attorney Michael Avenatti.

US Attorney Nick Hanna is speaking now. Mark Pearson, assistant special agent in charge of IRS criminal investigation, is expected to speak next.

You can watch the presser in the video player above (refresh this page if you don't see it).

Note: These charges are separate from the charges in Manhattan that were announced at roughly the same time. We'll learn more about those in a press conference after this one.