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Coal extortion trial scheduled Oct. 29

BECKLEY, W.Va. -- A California man accused of trying to extort $13 million from a West Virginia coal executive was arraigned Tuesday in Beckley, and his trial was scheduled for Oct. 29 in U.S. District Court.

Magistrate Judge Clarke VanDervort's order shows Judge Irene Berger will handle the case against West Hollywood resident Vivek Shah. Pretrial motions in the case are due Oct. 1.

Shah was indicted last month on charges he threatened to kill relatives of Foresight Reserves owner Christopher Cline if Cline didn't pay.

Court documents say Shah targeted four other wealthy but unnamed victims, including a film studio co-founder from Connecticut, two oil and gas millionaires in Texas and Florida, and the founder of an Internet company in Chicago.

Federal prosecutors won't identify those victims. Berger issued a gag order in the case last week, limiting access to court documents to participants in the case and court staff.

Berger also ordered the parties, their attorneys, witnesses, alleged victims and their relatives, investigators and court personnel not to speak to the media or release any information about the case.

Shah, a 25-year-old aspiring actor, is charged with four counts of interfering with interstate commerce and using interstate commerce to threaten extortion.

An affidavit filed by a U.S. postal inspector who investigated the case says Shah, who also uses the aliases Ray Amin and Rohan Gill, was staying at his father's home in Schaumburg, Ill., just before his arrest.

The scheme laid out in the affidavit was ambitious and wide reaching, involving offshore banks in Cyprus, Antigua, Malta and Mauritius.

 


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