BECKLEY, W.Va. -- A California man accused of trying to extort $13 million from a West Virginia coal executive may have to get a third team of lawyers.
Aspiring actor Vivek Shah fired his first attorney in December. On Tuesday, his current legal team filed a motion to withdraw as counsel.
The reasons are unclear. All federal court filings in the case are sealed, but the motion is listed on the docket.
Shah's trial is set for Feb. 25 in Beckley. A working number for him could not be located.
The West Hollywood resident was indicted last summer on charges he threatened to kill relatives of Christopher Cline, owner of Foresight Reserves coal company, if Cline refused to pay the $13 million.
Shah allegedly targeted four other wealthy but unnamed victims, including a film studio co-founder from Connecticut, oil and gas millionaires in Texas and Florida, and an Internet company founder of an internet company in Chicago.
Federal prosecutors won't identify those victims. In addition to sealing the documents, U.S. District Court Judge Irene Berger issued a gag order in the case last week, limiting access to court documents to participants in the case and court staff.
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.