A legal thriller involving movie producer Harvey Weinstein, extortion, and a wanna-be actor named Vivek Shah seems custom-made for Hollywood.
The devious plot began with a series of written death threats to Weinstein and four other moguls, the Los Angeles Times reports. It ended with federal agents taking the 25-year-old alleged bad guy away in handcuffs -- from his parents' house in Illinois.
Shah, the alleged extorter, was a familiar face in Hollywood. Or at least, he tried to make it appear that way. How much did he allegedly demand from one of Hollywood's heavy hitters?
According to investigators, Vivek Shah's alleged Harvey Weinstein extortion plot demanded $13 million.
In addition to Weinstein, Shah also allegedly sent letters to high rollers in Illinois, Florida, and Texas.
"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," a postal inspector said in an affidavit, according to the Times.
It's not clear how investigators learned of Shah's alleged plot. But surveillance video allegedly shows him buying postage and prepaid debit cards linked to the scam, the New York Daily News reports.
Shah's Facebook page reveals a bit more about the wanna-be actor, who landed small roles as an extra in movies and TV shows. Somehow, Shah snapped pics of himself hobnobbing with big-name stars like Tom Cruise and Angelina Jolie, according to the Daily News.
But thanks to his alleged Harvey Weinstein extortion plot, Vivek Shah's status is now that of an alleged criminal. If convicted of sending threatening interstate communications, Shah could face up to 20 years in prison. Here's hoping he won't get a movie deal out of it.
- Harvey Weinstein Extortion Plot: D-List Actor Allegedly Threatens Producer's Family (ABC News)
- Court Upholds Sentences in John Stamos Extortion Plot (FindLaw's U.S. Sixth Circuit blog)
- SpongeBob Attacked in Hollywood (FindLaw's Legally Weird)
- Octomom Gets Death Threats Over Her Welfare Benefits: Report (FindLaw's Celebrity Justice)