Federal agents arrested 25-year-old Vivek Shah in Schaumburg.
The FBI says Shah threatened to kidnap and kill the family of Harvey Weinstein in an attempt to extort $4 million from the Hollywood mogul.
Shah is also accused of sending threatening letters to four other people, including a coal magnate, an oil executive and the owner of a professional hockey team. He is now in federal custody in West Virginia.
Shaw is an aspiring actor who left Chicago for Los Angeles. He lists a number of acting credits on stage, TV and in movies. It is a resume consisting for the most part of minor roles. He has appeared in several TV shows and had a small, unaccredited part in the film "The Dark Knight."
A government affidavit says that Shah mailed a letter to Christopher Cline, the owner of a coal company in West Virginia, threatening to kill several named members of Cline's family unless he transferred $13 million to an offshore bank account.
The affidavit says four other similarly worded letters were sent. Although the recipients are unnamed, one is believed to be movie producer Harvey Weinstein.
Federal investigators say they tracked the origin of the letters to Shah who lives in Los Angeles. FBI agents arrested Shah earlier this month when he returned to visit his parents at their home in Schaumburg. He was then transferred to federal custody in West Virginia.
Shah was a theater student for two semesters at Columbia College in Chicago four years ago. And in that time period he also took a class at Second City, and had roles in summer theater in Chicago.
Weinstein won an Academy Award for "Shakespeare in Love." He co-founded Miramax studio.