The Manhattan district attorney’s office is investigating the origin of the money used in payments to settle Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct cases out of court, according to the New York Post.
The outlet reports that DA Cyrus Vance Jr. has launched a “wide-ranging and aggressive” probe into the source of the settlement money that Weinstein and his legal team used to settle sex misconduct cases — details of eight financial settlements with women, including actresses Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan, dating back to the early 1990s, were first reported in October in a bombshell New York Times report.
The investigation is reportedly part of a potentially broader embezzlement case involving the disgraced movie producer and his former film firms, Miramax and The Weinstein Company which he co-founded in 2005 with his brother Bob Weinstein.
In a related development, TMZ reports that “more than 20 grand jury subpoenas have been issued to people at The Weinstein Co. and several employees have already been interviewed for the financial investigation … as well as the alleged rape cases.”
Weinstein’s defense lawyer Ben Brafman maintains that the settlements paid on his client’s behalf met the proper legal standard.
“Any financial settlements by Mr. Weinstein were fully vetted and approved by legal counsel for Mr. Weinstein and The Weinstein Company,” Brafman said. “There was never any intent by Mr Weinstein to violate the law and as a result, we do not believe that any criminal charges will be filed once all of the facts are carefully reviewed.”
An indictment against Weinstein was all-but imminent last month with reports that the New York Police Department had built a case against the Oscar-winner over claims he raped actress Paz de La Huerta twice in 2010 at her Manhattan apartment. The indictment from the Manhattan district attorney, of course, never came. Vance also reportedly declined to use 2015 NYPD sting audio of Weinstein making unwanted sexual advances at Ambra Battilana Gutierrez as evidence in a potential sexual assault case.
A grand jury, the Post reports, is expected to start reviewing evidence in the potential embezzlement case next year.