Michael Avenatti, the former foe of Donald Trump who became a darling of the liberal media, broke down in court on Thursday as he was sentenced to 30 months in prison for his botched scheme to extort athletic apparel giant Nike out of up to $25 million.
“I alone have destroyed my career, my relationships and my life. And there is no doubt I need to pay,” a weeping Avenatti told Manhattan federal court Judge Paul Gardephe before he was sentenced, according to CNBC.
“I am truly sorry for all of the pain I caused to Mr. Franklin and others,” he added, referring to his former client Gary Franklin, an amateur basketball coach.
Gardephe railed into Avenatti before handing down his sentence, saying, “Mr. Avenatti’s conduct was outrageous.”
’He hijacked his client’s claims, and he used him to further his own agenda, which was to extort Nike millions of dollars for himself,” said the judge. “He outright betrayed his client.”
“Mr. Avenatti had become drunk on the power of his platform, or what he perceived the power of his platform to be,” Gardphe added.
Nike responded to the sentencing with only a brief statement that read, “The verdict and sentence speak for themselves.”
The sentence came as a surprise to many, given the fact that it was far lower than the nine years that was the bottom of the sentencing range suggested by federal guidelines. It was also not anywhere close to the “substantial” prison term that federal prosecutors wanted for the California lawyer. However, Gardephe said that he gave Avenatti a lighter sentence because he appeared to express remorse for the first time in court on that day.
“Mr. Avenatti has expressed what I believe to be severe remorse today,” the judge said.
On top of his prison time, Gardephe sentenced Avenatti to three years of supervised release for the case.
Avenatti rose to fame representing porn star Stormy Daniels, who claimed to have had an affair with former President Trump. After showing that he was willing to do and say anything against Trump when put on television, he became a liberal media darling, making numerous appearances on networks like CNN and MSNBC.
Now he sits in prison, and Trump is still a free man. Funny how life works out!