With a grand jury convened by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and police investigations on both coasts looking into sexual assault allegations, Harvey Weinstein now has to face a probe from the feds.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York has opened a sex crimes investigation into Weinstein to see whether the disgraced producer crossed state lines with the intent of committing an assault in the Empire State. “It is at early stages, but this is a lot more than a fishing expedition,” a well-positioned source told Deadline today of the potential sex-trafficking violations.
The Wall Street Journal first reported the effort by the office of Geoffrey Berman, who was formally appointed at the beginning of this year by the Trump administration. The U.S. Attorney’s office told Deadline that they had no comment on the matter and “cannot confirm” an investigation.
Weinstein’s lawyer Benjamin Brafman did confirm the probe, however, saying that he recently sat down with the feds “in an attempt to dissuade them from proceeding” with an investigation. The attempt clearly had limited results. “Mr. Weinstein has always maintained that he has never engaged in nonconsensual sexual acts,” Brafman added of his much-accused client.
The NYPD and the LAPD have handed over investigations to their respective D.A. offices, but to date there have been no criminal charges brought against the Oscar-winning producer. That state of affairs has left many increasingly coming to see civil suits seeking money as next moves against Weinstein — specifically company or production cash.
The office of Manhattan D.A. Cyrus Vance Jr. has been active on that front, at least. Sending out subpoenas for the grand jury and bringing in key people to talk, the team led by prosecutor Joan Illuzzi-Orbon is looking into the finances and books of now-sold The Weinstein Company and others connected with Weinstein. “Our investigation is in an advanced stage,” Communications Director Danny Frost said today of the Manhattan D.A.’s efforts.
With the bottom line as the trip wire, the tactic is reminiscent of how the FBI brought down Al Capone on tax evasion charges in the early 1930s.
Claims of Weinstein’s vile behavior over the decades was first exposed by The New York Times in early October of last year. Since then, nearly 100 women, some famous, some not, have come forward with allegations of harassment and assault.
In addition to being spotlighted by the Manhattan D.A. and the NYPD, Weinstein is being investigated by the LAPD, which sent three cases to the L.A. County D.A. on February 8. As UK police continue their probe, the Beverly Hills Police passed two cases of sexual assault to Jackie Lacey’s office on January 2.
There are also nearly a dozen lawsuits filed in the courts against Weinstein from some of the dozens and dozens of women who have gone public with accusations since last fall.