A wealthy musician lost $20 million over six years to scammers who persuaded him of threats against him coming out of Central America, the conservative Catholic movement Opus Dei and the CIA, a prosecutor said Tuesday.
Westchester District Attorney Janet DiFiore said a Chappaqua man was indicted last week in a scam targeting Roger Davidson, a pianist and composer from Katonah, a small town north of New York City. Davidson is founder and president of the Society for Universal Sacred Music. His great-grandfather and great-uncle founded the oil services company Schlumberger Ltd.
The district attorney said Vickram Bedi, 37, was arraigned Tuesday on a charge of grand larceny. His computer services business in Mount Kisco was also indicted. Bedi pleaded not guilty and was held on $5 million bail.
Bedi and a co-defendant were arrested last year as they prepared to leave for Iceland. Officials said at the time that they had stolen at least $6 million from Davidson. The district attorney’s office said Tuesday the amount was more than $20 million and investigators were working to find the assets.
The co-defendant, Helga Invarsdottir, 40, of Chappaqua pleaded guilty last year to grand larceny and is awaiting sentencing. [...]
If convicted, Bedi could be sentenced to up to 25 years in prison.
The saga began in August 2004 when Roger Davidson, 58 years old, a pianist and jazz composer who once won a Latin Grammy, took his computer to Datalink Computer Services in Mount Kisco, saying the machine had been infested with a virus.
The owners of the company, Vickram Bedi, 36, and his girlfriend, Helga Invarsdottir, 39, became aware of Mr. Davidson’s high profile and allegedly proceeded to convince him that he was the target of an assassination plot ordered by Polish priests affiliated with Opus Dei, a conservative Roman Catholic organization, authorities said. [...]
With knowledge of the victim’s family background, police allege, Mr. Bedi turned a routine client call regarding a computer virus into a multimillion-dollar fraud. Ms. DiFiore said Mr. Davidson was the victim of at least a $6 million larceny. The police chief in Harrison, which took the lead in investigating the case, said the amount stolen could be as much as $20 million.
When asked to remove the virus from the laptop, Mr. Bedi allegedly told Mr. Davidson that his computer had in fact been attacked with a virus so virulent that it also damaged Datalink’s computers, according to prosecutors.
Mr. Bedi told Mr. Davidson that he had tracked the source of the virus to a remote village in Honduras and that Mr. Bedi’s uncle, purportedly an officer in the Indian military, had traveled there in a military aircraft and retrieved the suspicious hard drive, prosecutors said.
In addition, Mr. Bedi told the victim that his uncle had uncovered an assassination plot against Mr. Davidson by Polish priests tied to Opus Dei, according to prosecutors.