Michael Avenatti reacts to federal charges: "Of course I'm nervous"

Avenatti on federal charges: "Of course I'm nervous"

Last Updated Mar 26, 2019 6:43 PM EDT

In his first interview since he was arrested on federal charges fraud and extortion, Michael Avenatti denied any wrongdoing but said he is "concerned" about the prospect of prison time. 

"Of course I'm nervous," Avenatti said in an interview with correspondent Jericka Duncan airing on "CBS Evening News" and "CBS This Morning." "I am nervous. I'm concerned. I'm scared. I feel terrible for my family. I feel bad for my friends."

Avenatti was arrested and charged by federal prosecutors in New York who said he allegedly tried to extort Nike for millions of dollars by threatening to release damaging information about the company.

On Tuesday, he said "any suggestion" he tried to extort Nike was "absurd."

"There's legal experts that say I was well within the line as an aggressive attorney. There's many that say that. And the fact of the matter is, this was not extortion," he said. "People make threats all the time in connection with trying to settle a case."

Michael Avenatti denies trying to extort Nike

In a separate case, federal prosecutors in California charged him with wire and bank fraud for allegedly lying to a client about a settlement payment and using bogus tax returns to obtain bank loans. He has also denied those charges.

"Most people are sticking by me. They believe in me. They know what I'm all about," Avenatti said in Tuesday's interview. "So I've been very fortunate in that regard. But sure, I'm nervous. I'm scared. I'm all those things. And if I wasn't, it wouldn't make a lot of sense."

Avenatti was released on $300,000 bond on Monday and ordered to surrender his passport. He is due back in court in April, both in California and New York. He maintained his innocence in an earlier tweet Tuesday, saying he "never attempted to extort Nike & when the evidence is disclosed, the public will learn the truth about Nike's crime & coverup."

In a statement Monday, Nike said it "has been cooperating with the government's investigation into NCAA basketball for over a year" and "firmly believes in ethical and fair play, both in business and sports, and will continue to assist the prosecutors."

The interview aired on "CBS Evening News" on Tuesday, with more airing Wednesday on "CBS This Morning."