It seems inevitable that Mark Geragos, who is Clare Bronfman’s lead criminal defense attorney, will have to step aside for her upcoming trial.
In fact, he may have a trial of his own.
Geragos is the co-conspirator in the Nike extortion case, allegedly perpetrated by fellow L.A. attorney, Michael Avenatti, 48.
If the allegations are true, Geragos worked hand-in-glove with Avenatti to secure between $15 and $25 million for themselves and about a million for their client – from Nike.
Avanetti, arrested and charged with attempting to extort Nike by the Feds yesterday in Manhattan, was released on $300,000 bond, with conditions including no contact with Geragos.
Yesterday, CNN confirmed Geragos he is no longer a contributor to the network and his name was removed from CNN’s website as a legal analyst.
According to CBS News, the criminal complaint in the New York case states Avenatti and co-conspirator “CC-1” [Geragos] requested a meeting with Nike lawyers in New York March 19 at Geragos’ office.
Michael AvenattiAvenatti told Nike he represented the coach of an amateur athletic union basketball team in California whose contract with Nike had not been renewed. He said the coach had evidence of Nike employees making illegal payments to high school basketball prospects and their families.
Avenatti threatened to hold a press conference, to coincide with the beginning of the NCAA basketball tournament and Nike’s quarterly earnings call, where he would reveal the allegations against Nike.
Avenatti offered to cancel the press conference if Nike paid his client $1.5 million and hired Avenatti to conduct an internal investigation of the company.
After the meeting, Nike’s attorneys contacted the U.S. Attorney’s Office to report the alleged extortion attempt.
On March 20, Nike attorneys had a phone call with Avenatti and Geragos that was recorded by law enforcement. Avenatti reiterated his demands for payment.
“I’m not fucking around with this, and I’m not continuing to play games,” Avenatti was recorded as saying. “You guys know enough now to know you’ve got a serious problem. And it’s worth more in exposure to me to just blow the lid on this thing. A few million dollars doesn’t move the needle for me. I’m just being really frank with you.”
“I’ll go and I’ll go take $10 billion off your client’s market cap. But I’m not fucking around,” he said.
Nike’s stock is estimated to be worth about $128 billion. It dropped about 2 percent after the events of yesterday.
On March 21 — the day of Nike earnings call and the first day of the NCAA tournament — Geragos and Avenatti met again in New York, with Nike attorneys who recording the meeting.
Setting them up, while secretly recording them, Nike’s lawyers asked Avenatti and Geragos whether they could arrange to make a payment without an internal investigation.
“If [Nike] wants to have one confidential settlement and we’re done, they can buy that for $22.5 million and we’re done,” Avenatti said. “Full confidentiality, we ride off into the sunset.”
On Monday morning, March 25, Avenatti tweeted he was holding a news conference on Tuesday, March 26, to announce he had uncovered a college basketball scandal.
“Tmrw at 11 am ET, we will be holding a press conference to disclose a major high school/college basketball scandal perpetrated by @Nike that we have uncovered,” Avenatti tweeted. “This criminal conduct reaches the highest levels of Nike and involves some of the biggest names in college basketball.”
Avenatti was arrested less than an hour later.
It is not known if Geragos was planning to attend the press conference.
Money Inc. estimated Geragos’ net worth three years ago at $25 million.
Among his most renowned cases, Geragos was one of the lead lawyers in two groundbreaking federal class action lawsuits against New York Life Insurance and AXA, for insurance policies issued in the early 20th century during the time of the Armenian Genocide of more than 1.5 million Armenians. The two cases settled for over $37.5 million, in 2004 and 2005.
Geragos represented actor Keith Carradine, his spouse, actress Hayley DuMond, attorney Stephen Kolodny, and designer Donna Dubrow in a class-action lawsuit following private eye Anthony Pellicano’s illegal wiretapping conspiracy and subsequent conviction.
Geragos first came to national attention when he began representing convicted Whitewater figure Susan McDougal, the former business partner of former President Bill Clinton. Geragos completed his representation of McDougal by securing a presidential pardon for McDougal on January 20, 2001.
He also represented McDougal in a 12-count embezzlement trial in Los Angeles in which the jury returned a not-guilty verdict.
Geragos defended actress Winona Ryder on charges of stealing more than $5,500 worth of merchandise from a Beverly Hills store in 2001. She was sentenced to three years probation and ordered to undergo psychological and drug counseling.
Geragos represented Michael Jackson in his molestation case. At the same time, he represented Scott Peterson in his capital murder case. Peterson was found guilty and sentenced to death, and, on April 26, 2004, Jackson removed Geragos as his attorney, suggesting that Geragos did not have had enough time to handle his case because of his workload.
Geragos won dismissal of alcohol-related counts against President Clinton’s brother, Roger Clinton Jr. in 2006. He won a dismissal of a prostitution charge against film director Lee Tamahori.
He was the attorney for Cameron Brown, accused of murdering his four-year-old daughter by throwing her off a Rancho Palos Verdes cliff. The first two trials resulted in hung juries. The third trial saw Brown convicted.
In 2007, Amphit Dhaliwal and Kulbir Dhaliwal, two survivors of the tiger attack at the San Francisco Zoo, hired Geragos to represent them. Geragos filed a federal suit against the Zoo and the City of San Francisco for violation of the Dhaliwal brothers’ civil rights. Geragos settled the civil suit for $900,000.
In 2009 he represented Chris Brown and got him a no-jail plea deal to one count felony assault. Brown was sentenced to 5 years probation and 6 months of community service.
Geragos is presently representing Colin Kaepernick, Jussie Smullet and Clare Bronfman, among others. Today all charges were dismissed against Smullet for reasons that remain unclear at this moment.
At this point, it seems unclear if Geragos will avoid indictment. He might become a key witness for the prosecution against Avenatti and gets immunity for doing so.
Either way, his future with Clare Bronfman seems uncertain. With this scandal swirling about him, not likely to resolve itself soon, he will be a distraction for Clare’s case at best and he will be distracted himself.
He might even be arrested during the trial of Clare Bronfman – which is presently set to begin April 29.
Based on this, it seems most likely that Geragos will not represent Clare Bronfman at her upcoming trial. Whether this will militate toward her making a plea deal also remains unknown.