An alleged fraudster dubbed ‘Hollywood’s scam queen’ may find sharing a cell in a US prison ‘to be stressful’, a court has heard.
Indonesian Hargobind Tahilramani, 42, is wanted in the US for a $1.5million scam and is fighting his extradition from the UK.
Tahilramani allegedly defrauded Hollywood professionals of large sums of money by posing as showbiz executives by offering them movie deals, including pretending to be producers working for The Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan.
Hargobind Tahilramani, 42, allegedly ran a scam that saw him posing as senior movie executives
Others impersonated by the so-called “catfish” included Star Wars producer Kathleen Kennedy, former Sony film executive Amy Pascal and ex-Paramount boss Sherry Lansing, it is said.
In another instance, Tahilramani allegedly spoke in a high-pitched voice to impersonate Rupert Murdoch’s ex-wife, Wendi Deng, while luring creatives into his scheme.
He faces two counts of wire fraud, five counts of aggravated impersonation and is charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
He was arrested at a £60-a-night aparthotel in Manchester on November 26, 2020 after a year-long investigation by the FBI.
Tahilramani, who is openly gay and said he came to the UK so he could live in a “free society”, is currently at HMP Wandsworth and is resisting extradition to the US.
Neil Greenberg, a psychiatrist who examined Tahilramani, gave evidence at Westminster Magistrates Court today.
Ben Cooper, representing Mr. Tahilramani, interviewed Mr. Greenberg.
“If he received a cellmate, is it likely to be more damaging to the mental health of this defendant?”
“It could go either way,” Mr. Greenberg replied.
Tahilramani is accused of impersonating Rupert Murdoch’s ex-wife Wendi Deng
“Sometimes his cellmates were fine, sometimes they were very unpleasant. This could be an additional source of stress.
“Do you foresee any difficulties he might encounter sharing a confined space?”
“Given that he has a moderate personality disorder, he is likely to irritate or cause difficulty to anyone – overall it is likely to be complicated,” replied the psychiatrist .
“Many risks can arise. The person he shared with may have a hard time getting along with him.
“He may feel the need to act to get his point across. It is difficult to predict without knowing the nature of the person with whom he would be placed.
Mr. Cooper then asked Mr. Greenberg about the relationship Tahilramani might have with prison staff.
“Can this improve the psychological impact? »
“If he had mental health sensitive support staff, that would be protective. Change that to someone who isn’t interested in sanity, it would make him unsupportive and put extra stress on him.
Mr. Cooper then asked Mr. Greenberg how Tahilramani could cope with solitary confinement.
Tahilramani is resisting extradition to the US because he wants to stand trial in the UK. A psychiatrist said he might find sharing a cell in a US prison ‘a source of stress’
“What would be his ability to cope with this regime? »
“It would be difficult for him”
But Greenberg pointed out that if he had activities to keep him occupied, it might be easier for him.
“He loves textiles. If he had enough distracting material, it would reduce the risk. But it would be difficult, there are no two ways.
Tahilramani was indicted by a grand jury for the Southern District of California on eight counts on October 6, 2020.
On the first count, he is charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
He faces two counts of wire fraud, carrying the same maximum.
The five counts of aggravated impersonation he faces each carry a maximum of two years in prison.
Earlier in the trial, psychiatrist Dr Stuart Grassian, an expert on the psychiatric effects of solitary confinement, said Tahilramani would not be able to cope in a US prison.
Giving evidence via a live link, Dr Grassian said: ‘Will he be able to cope the way he was able to cope with Wandsworth?’ My answer is no.’
The extradition hearing continues.