Who wouldn’t be?
Celebrity-attorney Michael Avenatti said in an interview broadcast Wednesday on CBS This Morning that he is “nervous” and “scared” about going to prison on federal fraud and extortion charges.
"Of course I’m nervous," Avenatti told CBS correspondent Jericka Duncan. “I am nervous. I’m concerned. I’m scared. I feel terrible for my family. I feel bad for my friends.”
The former attorney for adult-film star Stormy Daniels was arrested Monday, after prosecutors in New York claim he tried to extort Nike for as much as $25 million by threatening to release damaging information about the company that he says he obtained through a client.
Avenatti denies the charges. He was released from jail on a $300,000 bond.
“Did you try to extort Nike for millions of dollars?” Duncan asked Avenatti.
“No, and any suggestion is absolutely absurd,” he responded. “Nike knew, from the very first moment that I had any contact with Nike, that I was insisting that the truth about what Nike had done be disclosed to federal prosecutors and investigators.”
“What is the truth?" Duncan asked.
“The truth is, for years Nike and its executives have been funneling payments to amateur players, high-school players, and to their handlers and family members in an effort to get them to go to colleges that were Nike colleges and ultimately hopefully to the NBA so they can sign a shoe deal with Nike,” Avenatti said.
Nike said in a statement Monday that it “has been cooperating with the government’s investigation into NCAA college 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.”
Avenatti, the former #Resistance hero for his legal fight on behalf of Daniels against Donald Trump—and who briefly toyed with the idea of running for president—contends his behavior 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.”
“You’re facing—if convicted on all of these charges—up to the rest of your life in prison. Are you nervous?” Duncan asked.
“Well, of course I’m nervous,” Avenatti replied.
“Are you scared? Are you concerned? I mean, tell us, I guess, as someone who, again, has a history of representing people and now you’re on the other side facing some serious charges,” Duncan said.
“I am nervous. I’m concerned. I’m scared,” Avenatti responded.
“But you also seem confident,” Duncan said.
“I am confident because I believe the facts are on my side,” Avenatti said.
Avenatti has also been charged with bank and wire fraud in California. If convicted in both cases, he could face as much as 100 years in prison.