An aspiring Hollywood actor who attended high school in Schaumburg has been indicted on federal charges alleging he attempted to extort money from five wealthy individuals, including studio mogul Harvey Weinstein and West Virginia coal magnate Christopher Cline.
Vivek M. Shah, 25, of West Hollywood, Calif., was arrested Aug. 10 while visiting family in Schaumburg, according to court records.
The indictment by a West Virginia grand jury is most specific about the case involving Cline, but reference is made to four other victims.
These include “a Connecticut resident and co-founder of a film studio” — Weinstein; “an Illinois resident and co-founder and chairman of an Internet company”; “a Florida resident and founder of an oil and gas company”; and “a Texas resident and the child of a late founder of another oil and gas company.”
According to Shah’s Internet Movie Database entry, his television and movie roles have included a “docent trainee” on a 2012 episode of the series “Bones;” a maitre d’ in the 2010 film “Our Family Wedding;” and a bank hostage in the 2008 blockbuster “The Dark Knight.”
According to the same website, Shah’s father is a structural and civil engineer while his mother works at Motorola’s headquarters. It states that Shah is an alumnus of Columbia College in Chicago and studied acting at the Chicago Actors Studio and improv at the Second City Training Center in Chicago. A Columbia College spokesman confirmed that Shah attended the Chicago school for two semesters from 2007-2008, but did not graduate. A spokeswoman said Shah took a beginning improv for actors class at Second City in 2007.
An affidavit from U.S. Postal Inspector Joshua D. Mehall states that on or around June 26, Cline received a letter threatening to kill several named members of his family unless he transferred $13 million to an offshore bank account.
The letter goes on to state that through various means the threatening correspondence to Cline was traced to Shah — who also used the aliases Ray Amin and Rohan Gill.
Mehall’s affidavit states that Shah flew from California to Chicago on Aug. 1 and began staying at his parents’ home in Schaumburg. While in Schaumburg, Mehall states, Shah made four phone calls to a Los Angeles gun range to schedule training in handgun shooting after his scheduled return to California Aug. 12.
Instead, federal authorities arrested him two days before his return flight. He’s since been transported to federal custody in West Virginia, where the charges originate, where he remains behind bars on charges that could put him in prison for up to 20 years.
According to IMDb, Shah made his professional acting debut as “Rafi” at Stage 773, formerly known as Theatre Building Chicago, in the American Midwest Premiere of “A Passage to India.” It states that he frequently volunteers his time at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles and at Alexian Brothers Medical Center in Elk Grove Village. The latter claim could not be confirmed Thursday by Alexian Brothers officials.
Although court documents do not specifically name Weinstein as the Connecticut victim, numerous media reports Thursday identified him as such.
Ÿ Staff writer Barbara Vitello contributed to this story.Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.