Mark Geragos, a veteran trial lawyer who’s represented everyone from Michael Jackson to Jussie Smollett, was the attorney on every celebrity’s wish list. But on Monday, he was reported to be the alleged co-conspirator in a blockbuster $25 million extortion case alongside Michael Avenatti.
Manhattan federal prosecutors allege that Avenatti and an unnamed co-conspirator met with Nike attorneys on March 19 and demanded lavish bribes—threatening that if the company didn’t pay up, they’d release damaging information obtained by one of Avenatti’s clients.
In a later conversation, prosecutors allege, Avenatti told the attorneys that he’d “take ten billion dollars off your client’s market cap” if the pair didn’t get paid.
The Wall Street Journal first reported about Geragos’ ties to the case, identifying him as the alleged co-conspirator.
Geragos did not respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment. His attorney told NBC that, “It is important to note that Mr Geragos has not been charged with any criminal conduct whatsoever.”
Avenatti, who was also accused of bank and wire fraud in Los Angeles, was arrested Monday morning. He was ordered released on $300,000 bond after appearing in a New York federal courtroom several hours later.
Before Monday’s allegations, the Los Angeles-based Geragos represented a number of high-profile clients. He first rose to national prominence in the political arena, defending Susan McDougal, a former business partner of Bill Clinton, and Clinton’s brother, Roger.
Geragos also represented a number of celebrities. He defended Winona Ryder when she was accused of theft in 2002, and briefly worked as Michael Jackson’s defense attorney while the pop icon was fighting molestation charges.
More recently, Geragos secured a plea deal for singer Chris Brown after he assaulted Rihanna, backed Colin Kaepernick’s suit against the NFL, and is defending Jussie Smollett from allegations that he staged a hate crime. According to Geragos’ profile on his firm’s website, he’s one of just two attorneys ever to earn “Lawyer of the Year” for both civil and criminal work.
Geragos was also a fixture on a variety of cable news programs and worked as a legal analyst on CNN. Hours after the charges were filed Monday, a spokesperson for the network said he would not be asked to return.