Vivek Shah, age 25, filed a motion Wednesday to relieve the Charleston attorney his parents hired to represent him, Troy Giatra (GATT'-russ), and represent himself.
The aspiring actor and alleged extortionist was recently arraigned in West Virginia for his alleged attempt to extort millions of dollars from coal magnate Chris Cline, was indicted last week on seven felony counts of mailing threatening communications.
The West Hollywood actor who allegedly attempted to extort millions under threat of death also faces seven felony counts in California, bringing his total of victims to eight from the five previously known.
According to the US Attorney’s California Central District office, Mr. Shah threatened to harm the families of seven wealthy individuals unless they paid him large sums.
The indictment did not include the case already begun against Mr. Shah in W.V. regarding Mr. Cline.
In that case, the victim received a threatening letter that demanded $13 million be placed into an offshore account in Cyprus.
Mr. Shah’s alleged scheme began to unravel in May after he argued with his WeHo roommate over cat food.
According to court documents, the letters he sent, entitled "Extortion Notice," demanded money, set a deadline, gave a warning not to notify police and included the following threat:
"[Victim], if you follow the instructions, then you can take this notice lightly. If you don't, then expect at least one person dead in the next one year. It could either be [first names of close relatives], or any other close relative."
The indictment includes mention of victim H.W. (presumed to be movie mogul Harvey Weinstein) who received a letter on June 9 in Connecticut from California demanding $4 million.
Victim T.P. (reported to be Terry Pegula, the owner of the Buffalo Sabers) received a letter on June 26 in Florida, also sent from California, demanding $34 million.
Victim E.L. (Groupon co-founder Eric Lefkofsky) received a letter on July 9 in Illinois, sent from California, demanding $16 million.
Also on July 9, victim D.A. (Dannine Avara, an oil heiress) received a letter in Texas, sent from California, demanding $35 million.
The identities of the fifth and sixth victims could not be ascertained, but the court documents identified victim five as T.P., who received a letter July 9 in Florida from California demanding $34 million.
Mr. Shah apparently sent two more letters, one each to victims six and seven, in the days leading up to his arrest at his family’s home in Schaumberg, Illinois on August 10.
Court documents reveal that federal agents had been monitoring the home during Mr. Shah's visit.
Victim six, G.G., received a letter in California sent from Illinois demanding $9.6 million on Aug. 9.
The seventh victim, identified as R.K. (Ryan Kavanaugh, a Relativity studio company executive) in the indictment, received a letter in California mailed from Illinois demanding $11.3 million.
US District Judge Irene Berger presides over Mr. Shah’s WV trial and issued a gag order on Aug. 29.
He was arraigned on Sept. 4 in Beckley, WV, and a trial date was set for January.