Washington, DC – Federal agents have arrested an Indian American actor after he was named in a US District Court complaint charging him with sending threatening interstate communications, a felony carrying a maximum 20-year prison term.
Vivek Shah, a small-time actor who partied and rubbed shoulders with Hollywood celebrities, was arrested Aug 10 at his parents’ home in Schaumburg, Illinois, near Chicago, for threatening to kill several wealthy individuals unless they wired a large amount of money to an offshore bank account.
The arrest warrant, issued by US Magistrate Mary E. Stanley, described the offense: “On or about June 26, 2012, defendant Vivek M. Shah, also known as Ray Amin and also known as Rohan Gill, with the intent to extort from a person a sum of money did knowingly transmit in interstate commerce a communication containing a threat to injure the person of another which communication moved through and into Charleston, Kanawha County, and Beckley, Raleigh County and elsewhere with the Southern District of West Virginia.”
Postal Inspector Joshua Mehall, in a sworn affidavit, noted that Shah sent “extortion demand letters” to five wealthy individuals during 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,” the affidavit read.
The investigations quickly tied Shah to the extortion after online postage purchases, along with prepaid debit card transactions, PayPal charges, and mailbox rental records, were made available by the postal and other authorities to the agents.
Shah, 25, played small parts on “Bones,” and “Outsourced” and also had an unaccredited role in “The Dark Knight.” A struggling figure in the Hollywood film and television industry, Shah was born in Akron, Ohio and lived in the US for the first years of his life.
After moving with his family and spending ten years in India, Vivek and his family moved back to the US. He currently resides in West Hollywood, California, according to his profile on the website IMDb, the Internet Movie Database.
One of the prominent persons Shah targeted is Harvey Weinstein, the Oscar-winning producer of “Shakespeare in Love,” although Weinstein is not specifically named in the affidavit. The 60-year-old co-chairman of The Weinstein Company is described as “a Connecticut resident and co-founder of a film studio,” according to media reports.
On August 6, Weinstein hosted President Barack Obama at a $35,800 per-person campaign fundraiser at his waterfront Westport estate. (IATNS)