The US lawyer who acted for porn star Stormy Daniels in her dispute with Donald Trump has been released on $300,000 (£227,000) bail after he was accused of extorting more than $20m from Nike.
Michael Avenatti stands accused of fraud over a meeting with a lawyer for Nike in which it is alleged he threatened to release damaging information about the sports brand unless it paid him and another individual the sum of $15m to $25m. He denies the charges.
Prosecutors also alleged that he demanded $1.5m for a person he claimed to represent.
In a separate case, Avenatti has also been charged with defrauding a Mississippi bank of $4.1m in loans by submitting false tax returns between 2011-2013 that inflated his income.
He has also been charged with embezzling money from a client by negotiating a $1.6m settlement which he allegedly collected in secret, giving only $130,000 to his client while keeping the rest to support a "lavish lifestyle".
Avenatti was arrested in New York on Monday, but released on bail later that evening on the condition that he surrender his US and Italian passports. He did not enter a plea.
Today he tweeted:
I want to thank all of my supporters for your kind words and support today. It means a lot to me. I am anxious for people to see what really happened. We never attempted to extort Nike & when the evidence is disclosed, the public will learn the truth about Nike’s crime & coverup.— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) March 26, 2019
On Monday night he said: "I have fought against the powerful, powerful people, and powerful corporations. I will never stop fighting that good fight.
"I am highly confident that when all of the evidence is laid bare, in connection with these cases, when it is all known, when due process occurs, that I will be fully exonerated and justice will be done."
Avenatti is the lawyer for Daniels, who is suing the US president to release herself from a non-disclosure agreement – a type of confidentiality contract – she signed before he was made president in 2016.