LOS ANGELES (AP) — Attorney Mark Geragos has had a long career representing high-profile clients including Michael Jackson, Colin Kaepernick and Jussie Smollett. Now Geragos might need a defense attorney himself after being named in a case accusing lawyer Michael Avenatti of trying to extort Nike.
Geragos is not charged with a crime but two people familiar with the investigation confirmed Monday that he is the unidentified co-conspirator in court papers charging Avenatti with attempting to shake down Nike for $25 million by threatening the company with bad publicity. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the information was not made public by prosecutors.
Geragos, 61, didn’t respond to requests for comment.
For decades the media savvy attorney has defended headline-grabbing cases involving troubled Hollywood stars like Winona Ryder and Chris Brown and wife killer Scott Peterson.
A longtime CNN contributor, Geragos appeared on the network this month to discuss the case against his client Jussie Smollett, the “Empire” actor accused of fabricating a racist, anti-gay attack in Chicago. Within hours of the extortion case breaking, CNN cut ties with him.
“He is in many ways the face of the legal profession because of his years on CNN,” said Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, where Geragos earned his law degree. “For people who are in the know in Los Angeles, they can name a couple of lawyers, and he is one of them.”
Levinson said she was surprised by Geragos’ connection to the extortion case. He has a solid reputation in the profession and no history of misconduct, she said.
Last year, Geragos helped negotiate a multiyear, multimillion-dollar deal between Nike and Colin Kaepernick, the former NFL player known for inspiring other players to protest police brutality, racial inequality and other social issues. In announcing the agreement on Twitter, Geragos called Kaepernick an “All American Icon.”
Geragos’ website bio describes him as “the only lawyer besides Johnnie Cochran ever named ‘Lawyer of the Year’ in both Criminal and Civil arenas.”