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Wu-Tang Clan album sale pays off Martin Shkreli's court debt

Wu-Tang Clan album sale pays off Martin Shkreli's court debt

An unreleased Wu-Tang Clan album forfeited by Martin Shkreli after his fraud conviction has been soldBy LARRY NEUMEISTER Associated PressJuly 27, 2021, 9:26 PM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleNEW YORK — An unreleased Wu-Tang Clan album forfeited by Martin Shkreli after his securities fraud conviction was sold Tuesday for an undisclosed sum, though prosecutors say it was enough to fully satisfy the rest of what he owed on a $7.4 million forfeiture order he faced after his 2018 sentencing.The entrepreneur known as “Pharma Bro” once boasted that he paid $2 million in 2015 at auction for “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin,” the 31-track double album the Wu-Tang Clan spent six years creating.”With today’s sale of this one-of-a-kind album, his payment of the forfeiture is now complete,” Acting U.S. Attorney Jacquelyn M. Kasulis in Brooklyn said in a release.Authorities said the sales contract for the album contained a confidentiality provision that protects information relating to the buyer and price.In a civil case in Manhattan federal court, lawyers wrote in an April document that Shkreli had already reduced his forfeiture debt by about $5 million.Attorney Benjamin Brafman, who represented Shkreli, said he couldn’t comment because of the confidentiality order.He said in an email that he can only confirm that the entire forfeiture amount has now been paid.Shkreli, 38, is scheduled for release in October 2022 after serving a seven-year prison sentence.He was prosecuted after he gained fame in 2015 after he boosted by 5,000% the price of Daraprim, a previously cheap drug used to treat toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection that can be fatal to people with the AIDS virus or other immune-system disorders.Shkreli’s purchase of the Wu-Tang Clan album came as group member RZA said he wanted the album — packaged in a hand-crafted silver and nickel case which includes a 174-page book wrapped in leather — to be viewed as a piece of contemporary art.At sentencing, Shkreli also claimed to own an unreleased Lil Wayne album, “Tha Carter V.”In its debut week in 2008, the rapper’s “Tha Carter III” sold more than 1 million copies and helped launch Lil Wayne to superstar status.In 2017, Shkreli was convicted of lying to investors and cheating them out of millions of dollars in two failed hedge funds he operated. Brafman described Shkreli at sentencing as a misunderstood eccentric who used unconventional means to make his defrauded investors even wealthier.

Judge nullifies horse trainer Bob Baffert's NY suspension

Judge nullifies horse trainer Bob Baffert's NY suspension

A New York federal judge has nullified the suspension of horse trainer Bob Baffert, finding that the New York Racing Association acted unconstitutionally by failing to let him adequately respond to claims made against himBy LARRY NEUMEISTER Associated PressJuly 14, 2021, 10:29 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleNEW YORK — A New York federal judge on Wednesday nullified the suspension of horse trainer Bob Baffert, finding that the New York Racing Association acted unconstitutionally by failing to let him adequately respond to claims made against him after Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit failed a postrace drug test.In her written ruling, Brooklyn Judge Carol Bagley Amon said a prompt post-suspension hearing where Baffert could refute the claims was required to meet constitutional muster.But she said the racing association “had held no hearing — let alone a prompt one.”Attorney W. Craig Robertson III, who represented Baffert at a Monday hearing before Amon, said the ruling confirms that “following the Kentucky Derby, there was an improper rush to judgment and Mr. Baffert has been treated unfairly.”He called Amon’s ruling “one step, in one venue, toward righting those wrongs,” and said he hoped it would lead to cooperation between the parties rather than division.“Bob Baffert and NYRA have had a good relationship in the past. My hope is that they can get to that point again for the overall good of horse racing,” he said.A lawyer for the racing association did not immediately return a message seeking comment.Amon said she concluded that Baffert had established a likelihood he will prove the suspension violated the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.She said he also made a “strong showing” that there would be irreparable harm if the suspension was not overturned.Amon noted that lawyers for the New York Racing Association had argued at a hearing Monday in Brooklyn that the public depends on it to ensure races are conducted in a fair and honest manner and to protect the integrity of the sport.“That may be true, but the public has no interest in having the ‘integrity of the sport’ enforced by unconstitutional means,” she wrote.On Monday, Henry Greenberg, arguing for the racing association, said the organization acted quickly because the Belmont Stakes, the third prong of horse racing’s Triple Crown, was fast approaching.The NYRA operates Belmont Park, Aqueduct and Saratoga Race Course.In Baffert’s lawsuit last month seeking to get the suspension lifted, the Hall of Famer contended he was suspended without “any prior notice” and was not told the duration or terms of the suspension or any New York state law or regulation he might have violated.The suspension would have eliminated Baffert’s ability to enter horses at Saratoga, which opens Thursday.“The 2021 Saratoga summer meet is a one-time opportunity. And given that many of the races are limited to horses of a certain age, an inability to compete in those races now means those horses will never have the chance,” the judge wrote.“Baffert will face substantial damage to his income, client base, and reputation if he cannot enter horses at NYRA races for the indefinite future. He has already lost one prominent client and stands to lose others, and has been deprived of the ability to compete at Belmont,” she said.

Chicago banker convicted in loans-for-Trump job scheme

Chicago banker convicted in loans-for-Trump job scheme

A Manhattan jury has convicted a Chicago banker of criminal charges for enabling Paul Manafort to get $16 million in loans as the former campaign manager for ex-President Donald Trump helped him get an interview for a job in the Trump administrationBy LARRY NEUMEISTER Associated PressJuly 13, 2021, 8:35 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleNEW YORK — A Manhattan jury on Tuesday convicted a Chicago banker of criminal charges for enabling Paul Manafort to get $16 million in loans before the former campaign manager for ex-President Donald Trump helped him get an interview for a job in the Trump administration.The jury returned its verdict in federal court after less than two hours of deliberations, convicting Stephen Calk of financial institution bribery and conspiracy. Calk’s lawyers had maintained their client did nothing illegal in the weeks after Trump won the presidential election in November 2016.But prosecutors said Calk cleared a path for Manafort to receive loans he was not entitled to in the hopes that Calk could secure a high-level post with the Trump administration. Although Calk eventually got an interview at Trump Tower, he was not hired.Sentencing was set for Jan. 10 for Calk, who was the former chief executive of The Federal Savings Bank.As Calk left the courthouse, he declined comment. His lawyer, Paul Schoeman, later issued a statement, saying: “We are very disappointed by the verdict and will be pursuing all available legal remedies, including an appeal.”In a release, U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said Calk had used his federally insured bank to try to buy himself “prestige and power.”During the three-week trial, prosecutors gave jurors proof that Calk played a pivotal role in getting approval for a $9.5 million real estate construction loan and another $6.5 million so Manafort could finish construction on a Brooklyn condominium and avoid foreclosure.Defense lawyers argued that Calk could not win approval for the loans without the bank’s loan committee and underwriters agreeing to the terms. And they noted that the loans were obtained at a time when Manafort was considered wealthy and successful and had not yet been criminally charged.Early in the trial, Anthony Scaramucci testified that he never would have enabled Calk to get the interview for the administration post if he had know that Calk was helping Manafort to get millions of dollars in loans for his real estate ventures.Scaramucci had testified that Manafort, who served as Trump’s campaign manager for a key stretch from June to early August 2016, reached out to him in mid-to-late December 2016 to encourage him to consider Calk for an important position.At the time, Scaramucci was working on Trump’s presidential transition team.Although Calk had hoped to become Secretary of the Army, he eventually interviewed for other positions because that post had already been filled, Scaramucci said.Manafort lost his position in Trump’s campaign over his ties to Ukraine. Special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation led to his criminal conviction and a sentence of over seven years in prison for financial crimes related to his political consulting work in Ukraine. In December, Trump pardoned him.

Michael Avenatti faces sentencing in Nike extortion scheme

Michael Avenatti faces sentencing in Nike extortion scheme

A California lawyer who publicly sparred with then-President Donald Trump before criminal fraud charges disrupted his rapid ascent to fame faces sentencing after a jury concluded he tried to extort millions of dollars from NikeBy LARRY NEUMEISTER Associated PressJuly 8, 2021, 5:11 AM• 4 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleNEW YORK — Michael Avenatti, the brash California lawyer who publicly sparred with then-President Donald Trump before criminal fraud charges on two coasts disrupted his rapid ascent to fame, faces sentencing in one of those cases Thursday.Over a year after a jury concluded Avenatti tried to extort millions of dollars from Nike by threatening the company with bad publicity, U.S. District Judge Paul G. Gardephe will sentence him in Manhattan. Avenatti was convicted on charges that he tried to extort up to $25 million from the Beaverton, Oregon-based sportswear giant as he represented a Los Angeles youth basketball league organizer upset Nike had ended its league sponsorship.Regardless of the outcome, Avenatti faces trials in Los Angeles later this year on fraud charges and a separate trial next year in Manhattan, where he is charged with cheating his former client — the porn star Stormy Daniels — of hundreds of thousands of dollars.Avenatti, 50, represented Daniels in 2018 in lawsuits against Trump, appearing often on cable news programs to disparage the Republican as he explored running for president against Trump in 2020, boasting he’d “have no problem raising money.” Daniels said a decade-earlier tryst with Trump led her to be paid $130,000 by Trump’s personal lawyer in 2016 to stay silent. Trump denied the affair.Talk of those aspirations evaporated when prosecutors in Los Angeles and New York charged him with fraud in March 2019. Prosecutors in Los Angeles said he was enjoying a $200,000-a-month lifestyle while cheating clients of millions of dollars and the Internal Revenue Service of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Charges alleging he cheated Daniels of proceeds from a book deal followed weeks later. Avenatti pleaded not guilty to all charges.Prosecutors have requested a “very substantial” sentence, citing the U.S. Probation Department’s recommendation of an eight-year prison term. Avenatti’s lawyers said six months in prison and a year of home detention was enough punishment.On Tuesday, Gardephe rejected a request by Avenatti’s lawyers to toss out his conviction in the Nike case on attempted extortion and honest services fraud charges. The judge wrote that evidence showed that Avenatti “devised an approach to Nike that was designed to enrich himself” rather than address his client’s objectives.In written sentencing arguments, prosecutors said Avenatti tried to enrich himself by “weaponizing his public profile” to try to force Nike to submit to his demands.In a victim impact statement, Nike’s lawyers said Avenatti did considerable harm to the company by falsely trying to link it to a scandal in which bribes were paid to the families of NBA-bound college basketball players to steer them to powerhouse programs. An employee of Adidas, a Nike competitor, was convicted in that prosecution.The lawyers said Avenatti threatened to do billions of dollars of damage to Nike and then falsely tweeted that criminal conduct at Nike reached the “highest levels.”Avenatti’s former client, Gary Franklin Jr., said in a statement submitted by prosecutors that Avenatti’s action had “devastated me financially, professionally, and emotionally.” Franklin was expected in court Thursday.In their presentence submission, Avenatti’s lawyers said their client had suffered enough, citing enormous public shame and a difficult stint in jail last year that ended after lawyers said he was particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus.Although prosecutors asked Gardephe to impose a $1 million restitution order to help cover Nike’s legal expenses, Avenatti’s attorneys cited the lack of financial losses as a reason for leniency.“There was no financial loss to any victims so there is no restitution in this case,” they wrote. “The fact that a white collar federal criminal case was brought despite this fact is itself an important mitigating factor.”

Michael Avenatti faces sentencing in Nike extortion scheme

Michael Avenatti faces sentencing in Nike extortion scheme

A California lawyer who publicly sparred with then-President Donald Trump before criminal fraud charges disrupted his rapid ascent to fame faces sentencing after a jury concluded he tried to extort millions of dollars from NikeBy LARRY NEUMEISTER Associated PressJuly 8, 2021, 5:10 AM• 4 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleNEW YORK — Michael Avenatti, the brash California lawyer who publicly sparred with then-President Donald Trump before criminal fraud charges on two coasts disrupted his rapid ascent to fame, faces sentencing in one of those cases Thursday.Over a year after a jury concluded Avenatti tried to extort millions of dollars from Nike by threatening the company with bad publicity, U.S. District Judge Paul G. Gardephe will sentence him in Manhattan. Avenatti was convicted on charges that he tried to extort up to $25 million from the Beaverton, Oregon-based sportswear giant as he represented a Los Angeles youth basketball league organizer upset Nike had ended its league sponsorship.Regardless of the outcome, Avenatti faces trials in Los Angeles later this year on fraud charges and a separate trial next year in Manhattan, where he is charged with cheating his former client — the porn star Stormy Daniels — of hundreds of thousands of dollars.Avenatti, 50, represented Daniels in 2018 in lawsuits against Trump, appearing often on cable news programs to disparage the Republican as he explored running for president against Trump in 2020, boasting he’d “have no problem raising money.” Daniels said a decade-earlier tryst with Trump led her to be paid $130,000 by Trump’s personal lawyer in 2016 to stay silent. Trump denied the affair.Talk of those aspirations evaporated when prosecutors in Los Angeles and New York charged him with fraud in March 2019. Prosecutors in Los Angeles said he was enjoying a $200,000-a-month lifestyle while cheating clients of millions of dollars and the Internal Revenue Service of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Charges alleging he cheated Daniels of proceeds from a book deal followed weeks later. Avenatti pleaded not guilty to all charges.Prosecutors have requested a “very substantial” sentence, citing the U.S. Probation Department’s recommendation of an eight-year prison term. Avenatti’s lawyers said six months in prison and a year of home detention was enough punishment.On Tuesday, Gardephe rejected a request by Avenatti’s lawyers to toss out his conviction in the Nike case on attempted extortion and honest services fraud charges. The judge wrote that evidence showed that Avenatti “devised an approach to Nike that was designed to enrich himself” rather than address his client’s objectives.In written sentencing arguments, prosecutors said Avenatti tried to enrich himself by “weaponizing his public profile” to try to force Nike to submit to his demands.In a victim impact statement, Nike’s lawyers said Avenatti did considerable harm to the company by falsely trying to link it to a scandal in which bribes were paid to the families of NBA-bound college basketball players to steer them to powerhouse programs. An employee of Adidas, a Nike competitor, was convicted in that prosecution.The lawyers said Avenatti threatened to do billions of dollars of damage to Nike and then falsely tweeted that criminal conduct at Nike reached the “highest levels.”Avenatti’s former client, Gary Franklin Jr., said in a statement submitted by prosecutors that Avenatti’s action had “devastated me financially, professionally, and emotionally.” Franklin was expected in court Thursday.In their presentence submission, Avenatti’s lawyers said their client had suffered enough, citing enormous public shame and a difficult stint in jail last year that ended after lawyers said he was particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus.Although prosecutors asked Gardephe to impose a $1 million restitution order to help cover Nike’s legal expenses, Avenatti’s attorneys cited the lack of financial losses as a reason for leniency.“There was no financial loss to any victims so there is no restitution in this case,” they wrote. “The fact that a white collar federal criminal case was brought despite this fact is itself an important mitigating factor.”

Avenatti sentencing postponed until July 9 in Nike case

Avenatti sentencing postponed until July 9 in Nike case

A judge has postponed until July 9 the sentencing of Michael Avenatti for his conviction in an extortion case involving sportswear giant NikeBy LARRY NEUMEISTER Associated PressJune 24, 2021, 5:20 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleNEW YORK — A judge on Thursday postponed until July 9 the sentencing of Michael Avenatti for the once high-profile lawyer’s conviction in an extortion case involving sportswear giant Nike.Over the objection of prosecutors, U.S. District Judge Paul G. Gardephe said that the sentencing that was scheduled for next week can be delayed until July 9 but not again. It had been delayed six times before as the coronavirus forced repeated postponements of proceedings in Manhattan federal court.Avenatti, 50, was convicted early last year after a jury rejected his claims that he was a lawyer acting in good faith when he negotiated with Nike on behalf of a California youth basketball coach.Prosecutors said Avenatti demanded up to $25 million and threatened otherwise to muddy Nike’s name. They’ve asked that he serve a “very substantial” sentence and have noted that the Probation Department has recommended an eight-year prison term.Lawyers for Avenatti have argued that he’s suffered enormously already after a stint behind bars last year and should serve no more than six months in prison and a year in home confinement.In the months ahead, Avenatti faces federal fraud trials in Los Angeles and New York. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges. At a Manhattan trial scheduled for January, a jury will decide whether Avenatti cheated his former client, porn star Stormy Daniels, of hundreds of thousands of dollars for a book deal she signed.It was Avenatti’s representation of Daniels in lawsuits against then-President Donald Trump in 2018 that catapulted Avenatti to fame as he appeared frequently on cable television news programs.In his written order Thursday, Gardephe also addressed a request by prosecutors that he order Avenatti to pay $1 million in restitution to Nike for attorney fees it incurred in the case. The judge ordered both sides to submit written arguments on the subject.But he also signaled that prosecutors might face an uphill climb in their claim since restitution is not permitted when attorney fees result from a company’s effort to demonstrate cooperation, preserve victim status and avoid prosecution.Nike’s lawyers said last week in a victim impact statement submitted to the judge that the company, prior to its dealings with Avenatti, had internally conducted “an exhaustive investigation” and determined that the company’s executives and employees had not committed crimes in its relationship with college basketball players.The company also said it had cooperated with a probe by Manhattan federal prosecutors that resulted in multiple arrests and the revelation of a scandal in college basketball athletics in which the families of NBA-bound youngsters were paid cash to steer them toward certain schools and managers.A former executive of Adidas, a Nike competitor, was convicted in the case.

Avenatti sentencing postponed until July 9 in Nike case

Avenatti sentencing postponed until July 9 in Nike case

A judge has postponed until July 9 the sentencing of Michael Avenatti for his conviction in an extortion case involving sportswear giant NikeBy LARRY NEUMEISTER Associated PressJune 24, 2021, 5:19 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleNEW YORK — A judge on Thursday postponed until July 9 the sentencing of Michael Avenatti for the once high-profile lawyer’s conviction in an extortion case involving sportswear giant Nike.Over the objection of prosecutors, U.S. District Judge Paul G. Gardephe said that the sentencing that was scheduled for next week can be delayed until July 9 but not again. It had been delayed six times before as the coronavirus forced repeated postponements of proceedings in Manhattan federal court.Avenatti, 50, was convicted early last year after a jury rejected his claims that he was a lawyer acting in good faith when he negotiated with Nike on behalf of a California youth basketball coach.Prosecutors said Avenatti demanded up to $25 million and threatened otherwise to muddy Nike’s name. They’ve asked that he serve a “very substantial” sentence and have noted that the Probation Department has recommended an eight-year prison term.Lawyers for Avenatti have argued that he’s suffered enormously already after a stint behind bars last year and should serve no more than six months in prison and a year in home confinement.In the months ahead, Avenatti faces federal fraud trials in Los Angeles and New York. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges. At a Manhattan trial scheduled for January, a jury will decide whether Avenatti cheated his former client, porn star Stormy Daniels, of hundreds of thousands of dollars for a book deal she signed.It was Avenatti’s representation of Daniels in lawsuits against then-President Donald Trump in 2018 that catapulted Avenatti to fame as he appeared frequently on cable television news programs.In his written order Thursday, Gardephe also addressed a request by prosecutors that he order Avenatti to pay $1 million in restitution to Nike for attorney fees it incurred in the case. The judge ordered both sides to submit written arguments on the subject.But he also signaled that prosecutors might face an uphill climb in their claim since restitution is not permitted when attorney fees result from a company’s effort to demonstrate cooperation, preserve victim status and avoid prosecution.Nike’s lawyers said last week in a victim impact statement submitted to the judge that the company, prior to its dealings with Avenatti, had internally conducted “an exhaustive investigation” and determined that the company’s executives and employees had not committed crimes in its relationship with college basketball players.The company also said it had cooperated with a probe by Manhattan federal prosecutors that resulted in multiple arrests and the revelation of a scandal in college basketball athletics in which the families of NBA-bound youngsters were paid cash to steer them toward certain schools and managers.A former executive of Adidas, a Nike competitor, was convicted in the case.

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