Michael Avenatti’s arrest and criminal charges could spell doom for Chicago prosecutors’ case against disgraced R&B singer R. Kelly, TMZ is reporting.
Avenatti, who famously represented adult film actress Stephanie Clifford in her civil case against Donald Trump (a case which was ultimately dismissed), was arrested this week on charges of wire and bank fraud. As reported by The Inquisitr, Avenatti is accused of having extorted $20 million from Nike, promising to release damning information about the sporting goods manufacturer if they didn’t give him money.
“I’ll go take $10 billion dollars off [Nike’s] market cap…I’m not f***ing around.”
Similarly, Avenatti is facing a separate federal criminal case out of Los Angeles, accused of embezzlement “in order to pay his own expense and debts.”
The criminal charges against Avenatti represent a major problem for Chicago prosecutors building a case against R. Kelly; namely, that his credibility as a witness has been thrown into question. Avenatti was said to be one of the prosecution’s key witnesses in their case against Kelly.
Specifically, according to TMZ, Avenatti’s arrest and criminal charges cast doubt on the admissibility of a key piece of evidence: a videotape that supposedly shows Kelly having sex with a girl who is alleged to be 14-years-old. That tape is considered to be a so-called “smoking gun” against Kelly and supposedly spurned the 10-count indictment that Cook County prosecutors issued against Kelly in the first place.
— Hollywood Reporter (@THR) March 25, 2019
Kelly’s attorney, Steve Greenberg, says that Avenatti’s arrest casts into doubt the “chain of custody” of that tape; specifically, Greenberg claims, the tape may have been altered at some point before it made it to the hands of the police.
What’s more, the person who provided the tape to Avenatti is himself known to have a history of extorting R. Kelly and is, in fact, alleged to have taken Kelly for a million dollars even before Avenatti got the tape.
None of this is to suggest that Cook County prosecutors intend to drop their case against R. Kelly. However, Greenberg says that with the provenance of the supposed tape in question, as well as the credibility of the man who gave it to prosecutors in question, the jury is going to have to have serious questions about his client’s guilt.
Even so, Kelly’s legal problems are far from over. His Chicago case may or may not be on thin ice, but Detroit prosecutors are currently looking into alleged criminal acts by Kelly in that city, as People reports. What’s more, as recently as mid-February, as The New Yorker reported at the time, federal prosecutors were also looking into a case against Kelly.