(NEW YORK) — Federal authorities say an aspiring actor has been arrested for trying to extort millions of dollars from movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and four other tycoons and their families by threatening to kill them if his demands for money were not met, the New York Post reports.
According to court papers, Vivek Shah, 25, was arrested Aug. 10 at his parents’ home in Schaumburg, Ill., before he was about to return to Los Angeles with plans to take handgun shooting lessons.
Authorities say Shah sent extortion letters to Weinstein, a Florida oil executive, a billionaire coal magnate, the daughter of a Texas oilman, and Eric Lefkofsky, the co-founder of Groupon.
Shah is currently being held without bail in West Virginia, where one of his alleged targets maintains a home. Shah’s father, Mahesh Shah, tells the Post the allegations are “out of character,” and says his son is a “very good person.”
Vivek Shah is charged with two counts of interference with commerce by threats, and two counts of transmitting threatening communications in interstate commerce.
Weinstein co-founded Miramax Films and won an Academy Award as a producer in 1999 for Shakespeare in Love. His producing credits include more than 250 TV and film projects, including Pulp Fiction and The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Weinstein, the father of four daughters, declined to comment on the alleged extortion plot.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Ivana Kottasova, CNN
Noelle Baldwin, Deseret News
Frank Pallotta, CNN
Brian Stelter, CNN