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Italian man accused of stealing unpublished books pleads not guilty in New York -Breaking


Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK, (Reuters) – An Italian publisher in London pleaded guilty to theft of manuscripts by hundreds of authors. He impersonated editors and agents in an attempt to steal the literary ideas of these authors.

Filippo Bernardini was 29 years old when he filed his plea in Manhattan before U.S. Magistrate Robert Lehrburger. This came one day after Filippo’s arrest at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Prosecutors said Bernardini, whose LinkedIn entry calls him a rights coordinator for Simon & Schuster, had since 2016 created fake email addresses and registered more than 160 bogus domain names to impersonate people and companies in publishing.

Bernardini was said to often substitute a lower case “m”, with an “rn”, so that “sirnonandschuster” could appear, as in “simonandschuster.”

Bernardini was alleged to have killed a Pulitzer Prize-winner, along with Margaret Atwood and Ethan Hawke according to reports. He has been suspended by Simon & Schuster, the reports said.

Lehrburger rejected a request by the prosecutor to detain Bernardini and set Bernardini’s bail at $300,000. This was secured by the London residence of Bernardini’s partner who attended the hearing. Bernardini is to surrender his passport, and will be subjected to electronic monitoring.

Daniel Nessim, Assistant U.S. attorney, had described Bernardini as an “overwhelming flight risk” and stated that the defendant asked law enforcement when he was arrested: “I’m not U.S. Citizen, how can I be charged here in the U.S?”

Hannah McCrea the defense lawyer said Bernardini would be able to live with someone in Manhattan’s West Village. Bernardini’s partner, however, agreed that he will surrender his passport for two-months.

McCrea stated that it was a “very humbling experience” and that McCrea is grateful for his help. McCrea stated, “He will take this seriously.”

Simon & Schuster was not accused of wrongdoing. On Thursday, it did not reply to our requests for comment.

Bernardini was charged for wire fraud. This carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and aggravated identity theft which can add up to two more.

U.S., v. Bernardini. U.S. District Court Southern District of New York. 21-cr-00458.

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