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Calif. extortion suspect aims to fire W.Va. lawyer

Nov. 30, 2012 @ 08:11 AM

BECKLEY, W.Va. (AP) — A California man charged with trying to extort $13 million from a West Virginia coal executive wants to fire his lawyer.

Court filings in the case against West Hollywood resident Vivek Shah are sealed, and the parties are under a gag order.

But the U.S. District Court docket shows Shah filed a motion Wednesday to relieve Charleston attorney Troy Giatra and represent himself.

He’s set to stand trial in January.

The 25-year-old aspiring actor was indicted in August on charges he threatened to kill relatives of Foresight Reserves owner Christopher Cline if Cline refused to pay him.  

Shah allegedly 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 an internet company founder from Chicago.