It was a mystery that shook the literary world for years: US authorities said that the FBI had arrested an employee of the famous publishing house Simon & Schuster on suspicion of stealing literary evidence from prestigious authors before it was published.
Filippo Bernardini, a 29-year-old Italian, appeared in court in New York on Thursday, the day after his arrest at JFK, on charges of electronic fraud and aggravated identity theft, offenses punishable by 22 years in prison.
A spokesman for the Attorney General told AFP Manhattan Federal that he was placed on a $300,000 bond that would “guarantee his property,” and was placed under “house arrest” with a “curfew.”
Working in London at Simon & Schuster, he is suspected of having received for years “hundreds of unpublished manuscripts”, sometimes from known authors or their representatives, by writing to them with fake email addresses of publishers or literary agents, details of the indictment issued by the system American Judicial.
In 2019, writer Margaret Atwood was among the targets who revealed her agent, and in particular the experiences of the highly anticipated sequel to “The Scarlet Handmaid”, “The Wills”. According to a New York Times investigation at the end of 2020, other authors, such as Sally Rooney, Ian McEwan or actor Ethan Hawke, were also targeted.
According to American Justice, the Pulitzer Prize winner gave him his “next manuscript” believing he had published it.
Filippo Bernardini’s motives remain unclear. The indictment did not clarify what he did with the recovered works, and whether he obtained any financial benefit from it.
Simon & Schuster announced that its employee had been “suspended” “pending further information on the case”, saying it was “shocked and appalled” by the suspect’s actions.
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