Harvey Weinstein Extortion Plot
A struggling actor accused of hatching an extortion plot targeting film mogul Harvey Weinstein and other tycoons of industry across the country was arrested by federal agents.Wikimedia Commons

A 25-year-old struggling Indo-American actor has been accused for allegedly making death threats against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein in an attempt to extort millions of dollars.

Vivek Shah, an actor from West Hollywood, California, allegedly sent threatening letters to several Hollywood celebrities over the past two months for money.

Movie magnate Harvey Weinstein called the FBI when he received a threatening letter from Shah. Federal agents arrested the actor on Aug 10 at his parents' Chicago home, two days before he was scheduled to come back to Los Angeles to take handgun shooting lessons.

Shah wanted to launch his career in the film and television industry and was seen in "Bones", "Outsourced" and "The Dark Knight."

According to an affidavit obtained by news website The Smoke Guns, the struggling actor sent "extortion demand letters" to five wealthy individuals during the months of June and July.

"Each of these letters contained a threat to kill named members of the recipient's family unless a large sum of money was wired to an offshore bank account," Postal Inspector Joshua Mehall told the website.

Weinstein's name was not mentioned in the affidavit, but he was described as "a Connecticut resident and co-founder of a film studio". Weinstein is a film producer, movie studio chairman and co-founder of Miramax film.   

He has produced movies like "Shakespeare in Love", "Reservoir Dogs", "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Artist."

Other wealthy individuals who were targeted by Shah included co-founder of Groupon Eric Lefkofsky, oil executive Terry Pegula and coal tycoon Christopher Cline, according to the New York Post.

The affidavits sworn by Mehall showed that a letter sent to Cline demanded $13 million and included "wiring instructions for a bank in Cyprus."

When federal agents came to know about Cline's threat, they learned that the other extortion letter which was quite similar to the one sent to Cline, was sent to Weinstein and other people.

According to Shah's IMDB profile, he was born in Akron, Ohio. For six years Shah lived in the US, but shifted to India where he stayed there for 10 years with his family. He returned back to the US and settled in Los Angeles, California.

If Shah is convicted of the felony charges, then he will face a maximum 20-year prison term. 

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