Published August 23, 2012 | 2:38 pm
Chicago: A small-time Indian-American actor has been arrested by federal agents on charges of trying to extort millions of dollars from five business tycoons, including Harvey Weinstein, the Oscar-winning producer of “Shakespeare in Love”.
Vivek Shah, 25, who has had bit parts on “Bones,” and “Outsourced” and an unaccredited role in “The Dark Knight,” was living in West Hollywood, California, while trying to launch a career in film and television, according to ABC News.
Shah is accused of death threats against Harvey Weinstein’s family in an attempt to extort $4 million from the film producer and sending menacing letters to four other millionaire tycoons, including a coal magnate, an oil executive and the owner of a National Hockey League team.
“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 was cited as saying in a sworn affidavit by ABC News.
Weinstein is not named in the affidavit, but the 60-year-old co-chairman of The Weinstein Co. is described as “a Connecticut resident and co-founder of a film studio”, the news channels said.
Also allegedly targeted by Shah was coal magnate Christopher Cline, who is worth an estimated $1.5 billion, and from whom Shah allegedly attempted to extort $13 million.
The affidavit, signed by Mehall, indicated that a letter sent to Cline contained “wiring instructions for a bank in Cyprus”, ABC said.
Shah was arrested Aug 10 by federal agents at his parents’ home near Chicago after he was named in a US District Court complaint for allegedly sending threatening interstate communications.
He is being held without bail in West Virginia, which is where one of his alleged targets lives.
Shah was born in Ohio, but moved to India for 10 years with his family before returning to the United States, according to his IMDb profile.
He studied at Columbia College Chicago and later at the Chicago Actors Studio and Chicago’s Second City Training Centre.
If convicted of the felony charges, Shah faces a maximum 20-year prison term. ians