Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

This is an archival story that predates current editorial management.

This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.

Arts and Entertainment

How A Fight Over Cat Food Unraveled The Extortion Scheme Against Harvey Weinstein

Before you read more...
Dear reader, we're asking you to help us keep local news available for all. Your tax-deductible financial support keeps our stories free to read, instead of hidden behind paywalls. We believe when reliable local reporting is widely available, the entire community benefits. Thank you for investing in your neighborhood.

A roommates' nasty quarrel over a bag of cat food kicked off a chain of events that eventually unraveled an extortion plot against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.Actor Vivek Shah, 25, was arrested earlier this month on suspicion of threatening to kill Weinstein's family members if the movie mogul didn't wire money to him in an offshore account.

But police ended up linking the plot to Shah during an investigation into a fight between him and his roommate in West Hollywood, according to the New York Daily News.

His roommate Stephanie Harris filed a restraining order against Shah earlier this year after the two had a dispute over a bag of cat food. Shah responded to the dispute by slamming a door over her foot, which ripped the skin off of it. This wasn't the first problem Harris had with Shah. She said he bragged about taking some sort of "muscle enhancement" that caused serious—and scary—mood swings.

"I'm scared of him," Harris told The NY Daily News. "He's a dangerous individual."

Support for LAist comes from

Shah for his part, said in a court statement, that he ignored Harris' concerns on the night of the cat food incident because he "thought she was just going through her period."

When police investigated the domestic dispute, they found a fake driver's license with the name Ray Amin, which was the name used to rent a mailbox that was used in the alleged extortion scheme. A judge granted Harris' restraining order.

Shah was indicted in West Virginia and could face up to 40 years in prison if convicted of all charges.

Shah's attorney Troy Giatras said in a statement that he wanted to discourage anyone from jumping to conclusions about his client: "Before we rush to judgment, we need to wait until all of the facts are in. We are still in the process of gathering those facts."