Weinstein dodges legal bullet
Harvey Weinstein just dodged another bullet.
The Manhattan district attorney won't be bringing a financial crimes case against the once-mighty film mogul, according to the New York Post has learned.
Prosecutors didn't find any criminal conduct after a year-long investigation into whether Weinstein misappropriated money from his companies to silence accusers, law-enforcement sources said.
Authorities served more than two dozens subpoenas demanding documents from the Weinstein Company, Miramax and two law firms that represented him and his company, the sources said.
Weinstein, however, still faces predatory assault, rape and other charges related to two victims, production assistant Mimi Haleyi and an unidentified woman.
"The fact that the District Attorney's Office has officially closed their investigation does not surprise me in the least," said Weinstein's defence lawyer Ben Brafman, referring to the financial crimes probe.
"I have been explaining to them for almost a year that this inquiry was a mindless voyage as Mr. Weinstein never defrauded any company or person and always paid his own bills, or after the fact, by agreement, reimbursed the company for any personal expense."
Over the last two decades, Weinstein has struck settlements with more than a dozen accusers, including Italian model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, who reportedly got a $1 million payout.
In 2015, she told police that Weinstein allegedly groped her in his Tribeca office, but the Manhattan District Attorney, in a widely criticised decision, declined to prosecute the case.
The financial probe, described by one source as "wide-ranging and aggressive," failed to turn up evidence to support a fraud or larceny indictment.
The hush-money settlements were carefully vetted by Weinstein's lawyers to ensure they were legal, a source said.
Assistant DA Kevin Wilson led the investigation that was supervised by Christopher Conroy, chief of the Major Economic Crimes Bureau.
A potential financial crimes indictment was seen as a backup to the sex assault case, a source said.
"It was an insurance policy if the sex assault case collapsed," according to the source.
Wilson is now working alongside Joan Illuzzi-Orbon, the lead prosecutor on the sex crimes case, which has also faced serious hurdles.
In October, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice James Burke dismissed the felony count that related to actress Lucia Evans due to inconsistencies in her story and allegations that former lead Detective Nicholas DiGaudio coached a witness to withhold information.
Brafman filed a motion this month to dismiss the remaining counts against Weinstein, which Judge Burke has yet to rule on.
In court papers, prosecutors argued that their case is still strong.
Wilson allegedly spearheaded an effort to locate accusers in Los Angeles last September, law enforcement sources said. These women, known as Molineux witnesses, would testify to uncharged crimes and could potentially bolster the DA's case. A judge will have to rule on whether their testimony is admissible.
Manhattan federal prosecutors are conducting their own probe into whether Weinstein broke any financial laws. The feds have crimes that don't exist under state law, including wire fraud and federal stalking. The status of their investigation wasn't immediately clear.
The Manhattan DA declined to comment.
Brafman added, "Had they [prosecutors] listened to me early on, it would have saved the District lawyer a lot of time and money."
This story first appeared in the New York Post and is republished with permission.