CHARLESTON, WV—U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin today announced that Vivek Shah, 25, of West Hollywood, California, has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Charleston, West Virginia, on charges arising from a multi-million-dollar extortion attempt. The indictment alleges Shah sent a prominent West Virginian a letter threatening to kill a relative of the letter’s recipient unless $13 million was wired to an offshore bank account by June 28, 2012.
The letter identified several of the recipient’s relatives by name, the indictment says. According to the indictment, Shah later sent the victim wiring instructions for a bank account in Cyprus, along with a second copy of the original threatening letter.
Shah was arrested on August 10, 2012, pursuant to an arrest warrant issued in the Southern District of West Virginia. The arrest warrant was issued in response to a criminal complaint containing allegations related to those in the indictment announced today. The criminal complaint reveals Shah sought out handgun training only days before he was arrested.
The indictment charges Shah with two counts of interference with commerce by threats and two counts of transmitting threatening communications in interstate commerce. If convicted on all counts of the indictment, Shah faces up to 40 years in prison.
The indictment results from an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, and Chicago Divisions and the United States Postal Inspection Service. Counsel to the United States Attorney Steve Ruby is handling the prosecution.
The charges contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.