Veteran trial lawyer Mark Geragos this week was named as an alleged co-conspirator in a $25 million extortion case with celebrity-attorney and former #Resistance hero Michael Avenatti.
Geragos and Avenatti, according to Manhattan federal prosecutors, met with Nike attorneys on March 19 and made a stunning offer: They’d keep quiet about compromising information obtained by one of Avenatti’s clients, an amateur basketball coach, in return for millions of dollars. Both have denied any wrongdoing.
Geragos’ lengthy career has included successfully securing a plea deal for notorious singer Chris Brown after he assaulted Rihanna, defending Empire actor Jussie Smollett, and representing Colin Kaepernick in his suit against the NFL. Avenatti, on the other hand, is best known for his recent cases, including representing adult film star Stormy Daniels against President Donald Trump.
Both lawyers have kept busy fighting court battles on behalf of a lengthy list of high-profile clients—but now find themselves embroiled in scandal. Here’s a rundown of their current cases.
R. Kelly’s legal team has seized on Avenatti’s court woes as they defend him from sex-abuse charges.
The singer’s attorney, Steve Greenberg, told TMZ on Tuesday that he hopes Avenatti’s credibility will become an issue in the case, with particular regard to how prosecutors obtained a sex tape that Cook County investigators claim shows R. Kelly having sex with an underage girl. Avenatti represents several of Kelly’s alleged victims and their family members.
Greenberg told the gossip site that the issue of “chain of custody”—or how Cook County prosecutors got that tape in the first place—is now subject to question. Greenberg even reportedly suggested that the tape may have been digitally edited before it was given to prosecutors.
Juan Manuel Granados
Meanwhile, Avenatti currently represents the man who claimed he was assaulted by Fox host Tucker Carlson at a Charlottesville country club in October. Carlson has said the incident was sparked by comments Juan Manuel Granados made to his daughter, but the content of those remarks has been heavily debated.
“On October 13, I had dinner with two of my children and some family friends at the Farmington Country Club,” Carlson wrote in a statement. “Toward the end of the meal, my 19-year-old daughter went to the bathroom with a friend. On their way back through the bar, a middle aged man stopped my daughter and asked her if she was sitting with Tucker Carlson.”
When she said that Carlson was her father, things allegedly got ugly, and the man responded, “‘Are you Tucker’s whore?’ He then called her a ‘fucking cunt.’”
Granados has denied Carlson’s version of events, saying: “I NEVER called any member of his family any names.”
After Carlson’s daughter “returned to the table in tears” and left the building, Carlson claimed that he and his son went over to confront the man—and throw a glass of wine on his head. At that point, video released by Avenatti shows Carlson shouting at Granados to “get the fuck out of here.”
Last month, Colin Kaepernick’s attorney, Geragos, secured a settlement in Kaepernick’s lawsuit against the NFL, which accused the league of colluding to keep him off the field. Kaepernick has been jobless since he knelt during the national anthem in protest against racial inequality and social injustice.
Just weeks ago, Geragos speculated on TV that the former NFL player could join the Carolina Panthers.
Therese Patricia Okoumou
Therese Patricia Okoumou, who climbed the Statue of Liberty on July 4 last year, was sentenced to five years of probation last week after being convicted of disorderly conduct, interference with agency functions, and trespassing. On the day of the climb, she told authorities that she scaled the statue “for the children in Texas.”
Avenatti quickly jumped onto her case after announcing that he would not be running for president in 2020. “Patricia and I are both passionate advocates of mothers, fathers and children separated at our southern border as a result of the draconian policies of Donald Trump and his cronies. I look forward to assisting in her defense and cause,” Avenatti tweeted.
Geragos also represents Clare Bronfman, the Seagram’s liquor heiress who was arrested as part of an investigation into NXIVM, the secretive self-help group officials have described as an abusive sex cult.
Bronfman is a member of the group’s executive board and its alleged financial backbone. She was indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit identity theft and racketeering conspiracy. She is due in court next week.
Empire actor Jussie Smollett’s record was wiped clean on Tuesday after Cook County prosecutors dropped all 16 counts of disorderly conduct against him. Geragos, who repped Smollett amid the much-publicized case, lauded the decision in a Tuesday tweet. “Today, all criminal charges against Jussie Smollett were dismissed by the prosecution. Jussie’s record has been wiped clean. Jussie was attacked by two people he was unable to identify. He was a victim and was victimized again in a rush to judgment. Apologies accepted.”
The State’s Attorney’s Office said in a press release that the decision to drop all charges was made after its office reviewed Smollett’s “previous community service” and in light of his “agreement to forfeit his bond to the City of Chicago.”