5:10pm PT by Seth Abramovitch
Harvey Weinstein Extortionist Sentenced to 7 Years
Vivek Shah -- the 26-year-old L.A. actor found guilty of extorting money from several high-powered executives, including Harvey Weinstein and Relativity's Ryan Kavanagh -- was sentenced Wednesday to seven years and three months in federal prison.
The West Hollywood–based Shah, who had small parts in films like The Dark Knight and Our Family Weddings, pleaded guilty in May to one count of transferring threatening communications in interstate commerce and seven counts of mailing or sending threatening communications through the mail.
Among his victims was Chris Cline, a coal-industry millionaire from West Virginia, from whom Shah tried to extort $13 million. Shah threatened to murder members of Cline's family if he failed to wire the money.
Besides Weinstein and Kavanagh, Shah targeted Groupon co-founder Eric Lefkofsky, Playtone owner Gary Goetzman, oil heiress Dannine Avara and Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula with his scheme. The goal: to amass $120 million in liquid funds. Shah also admitted to hoping the crime spree might bring some attention to his stagnating acting career, West Virginia Metro News reports.
“Imagine how terrifying it would be to open the mail and find a threat to kill your spouse or your children,” U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said in a prepared release. “This defendant carried out a carefully planned scheme designed to frighten his victims out of more than $120 million. It was an extraordinarily brazen crime, and I’m pleased, for the victims’ sake, that we were able to put a stop to it so quickly.”