Federal prosecutors are investigating whether disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein committed wire fraud or violated any other laws in his efforts to muzzle his accusers, sources confirm to Deadline.
The investigation is a sign Weinstein could face federal charges, in addition to the sexual assault charges filed by state prosecutors in New York.
Federal prosecutors are reportedly probing Weinstein’s relationship with Black Cube, a business run largely by former officers of Mossad and other Israeli intelligence agencies. A New Yorker story reported that these private investigators adopted false identities to obtain information about Rose McGowan, one of Weinstein’s accusers.
The explicit goal of the investigations, according to a contract obtained by the New Yorker, was to halt the publication of the abuse allegations against Weinstein.
Benjamin Brafman, Weinstein’s lawyer, said in a statement he met with Manhattan federal prosecutors and told them Black Cube’s activities were supervised by prominent lawyers “who would never have authorized illegal activity of any kind.”
“We also made clear that the sole objective was to enable Mr. Weinstein to effectively defend himself through legal action from serious and patently false allegations,” Brafman said in a statement to Deadline. “If anything, recent developments have demonstrated the reckless disregard for the truth by certain of the key figures, whose accusations fueled the Weinstein investigation.”
In May, state prosecutors charged Weinstein with rape and felony sexual assault, a charge that carries a minimum 10-year sentence and a maximum of life in prison. He has pleaded not guilty, and repeatedly denied allegations of nonconsensual sex.
Federal investigators may be pursuing separate charges, in case the Manhattan district attorney’s office fail to secure a conviction. The Wall Street Journal was the first to report the federal probe.