Avenatti objects to U.S. ‘document dump,’ seeks possible Nike trial delay


NEW YORK (Reuters) – Celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti wants a U.S. judge to exclude large amounts of material that federal prosecutors produced recently for his trial accusing him of trying to extort Nike Inc (NKE.N), or else to delay the Jan. 21 trial by 30 days.

In a filing late Sunday night in Manhattan federal court, Avenatti’s lawyers said the “document dump” includes more than 13,800 pages of documents and an iPhone from Avenatti’s former office manager, and has “severely prejudiced” their client’s ability to prepare for trial.

They also said the materials and prosecutors’ plans to call witnesses like a former divorce lawyer for Avenatti’s estranged wife show that evidence about Avenatti’s alleged financial strains, and whether they might provide a motive to extort, could “overwhelm the trial” and should be excluded.

A spokesman for U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman in Manhattan declined to comment on Monday. U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe oversees Avenatti’s case and will review the request.

Avenatti became known for representing porn star Stormy Daniels and criticizing U.S. President Donald Trump.

He was charged with threatening to hold a news conference discussing Nike’s alleged improper payments to college basketball recruits unless the athletic wear company paid his client, youth basketball coach Gary Franklin, $1.5 million and paid Avenatti up to $25 million to conduct an internal probe.

Prosecutors also charged Avenatti with failing to tell Franklin that Nike offered to settle the coach’s claims without paying Avenatti, costing the lawyer money.

Avenatti has pleaded not guilty. Nike has denied wrongdoing.

The case is U.S. v. Avenatti, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 19-cr-00373.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; editing by Nick Macfie