Bail for an Italian accused of theft of unpublished books

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NEW YORK (AP) – An Italian citizen accused of stealing numerous manuscripts of unpublished books pleaded not guilty on Thursday and his bail was set at $ 300,000 despite an attempt by the prosecutor to keep him in jail until his trial.

Filippo Bernardini, 29, pleaded in Manhattan federal court to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft charges against him after his arrest on Wednesday as he arrived in the United States by robbery.

Assistant US Attorney Daniel Nessim has requested that he be held until his trial because of a flight risk, but Judge Lewis J. Liman set the bond at $ 300,000 and said he could be released once electronic surveillance has been established.

Bernardini’s lawyer, Hannah McCrea, has successfully argued for bail, saying her client has never been arrested before.

“He takes this very seriously and has every intention of fighting this matter,” she said.

McCrea said Bernardini found the experience “very humbling”.

She said he would stay in Manhattan’s West Village in a small apartment with a friend until he found an apartment of his own. McCrea said Bernardini’s father will arrive on Saturday.

Bernardini, who works in publishing in London, has been accused of using fraudulent and similar domains to impersonate people involved in the publishing industry in order to surreptitiously gain access to unpublished books from ‘at least August 2016 to July of last year, according to an indictment.

The alleged crimes were more mysterious because anyone who searched for the manuscripts was apparently not trying to sell them or publicly exploit their possession.

The indictment says Bernardini posed as, defrauded and attempted to defraud hundreds of individuals over the years. Works by Margaret Atwood and Ethan Hawke were among the targets.

Simon & Schuster UK said in a statement on Wednesday that it was “shocked and horrified” by the allegations and that Bernardini had been suspended from duty.

Advocating for the detention, Nessim said Bernardini was a “huge flight risk” in part because he had no serious connection to the United States.

He said a conviction could result in a mandatory two-year jail term on the aggravated identity theft charge, which would be served in addition to any other jail time resulting from it.

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