Cover Story: Dinesh Shah's Younger "Friends"
Two such have written in to the Houston Press since Part One of our series on Shah ran last week.
One man, who wanted only to be identified as Nate, told us in the comments after last week's story that he met Shah at Ninfa's on Navigation in 2006, when Nate was 22. Nate wrote that Shah was with an old man -- possibly Henry Dyches. Shah struck up a conversation with Nate and tried to advise him on how the younger man could earn extra money. He soon started telling him that the best way would be to buy lots and lots of stock in ExxonMobil.
"I wish I had now," Nate said in a later phone conversation with the Press. "The stock was at about $60 then and is close to $90 now."
Soon the chats moved from the realm of finance to that of lust. Shah had told Nate that he was a high-powered Wall Street guy, and while he was straight -- he had been married to a Campbell's Soup heiress and had a superstudly triathlete son -- sometimes Shah and his Wall Street buddies would alleviate their stress by getting it on together.
Nate says he was having none of it. He told Shah he was not gay, but that didn't deter the older man.
Shah had Nate fitted for a Jos. A Banks suit, and Nate accepted it. And then later Shah attempted to take him to a room in the Hotel Derek and seduce him, but Nate declined. All the while, Nate says, Shah was telling him very explicitly all the things he wanted to do with him, even while Nate continued to protest that he was not gay.
Eventually, Nate got into an accident and broke his back. While he was not paralyzed, he spent weeks in the hospital and was partially handicapped for weeks after he got out. Nate says Shah still pestered him for sex, even while he was still numb and in a back-brace.
Another young man -- who wanted to be identified only as Michael -- says Shah first chatted him up in Montrose Half Price Books when he was barely out of high school. He say Shah took note of the books the high school valedictorian was reading -- notably, one called Biology as Ideology, and said he must be a very smart guy.
Shah told Michael that he had gone to Cal-Berkeley for his undergrad and got his medical degree at Harvard. (He told Michael he was a thoracic and vascular surgeon.) He told Michael that he should apply to Cornell and Princeton as he had many connections there.
"When I left I was pretty sure this guy was a fraud, but I still analyzed the hell out of the situation because it was too interesting to just brush off," Michael writes in an e-mail to the Press. "On one hand, he was wearing a suit and his cell number did in fact have a NY area code (as he had mentioned that was where he lived and practiced medicine), but on the other I kept asking myself 'If this guy is worth millions what the hell is he doing at Half Price Books?.' Moreover, I found a directory of all NYC doctors online and couldn't find his name in it. I would have never guessed he was a conman, because honestly his doctor act was pretty awkward and forced, so being that it was Montrose I settled on him being a crackhead or otherwise mentally-unwell person."
Over the next few weeks, Shah would text Michael stuff like this message Michael says is still stored in his phone:
"My dad died and I inherited a large home and many properties. He was a wealthy man. He was an engineer and businessman. I was born in houston. I am selling most of the properties. I plan on going back to new york next year. I will take you! Ok. My mother was a surgeon. I took after her." Shah would also call and leave messages in what Michael calls his "Ben Stein-ish voice."
Shah's interest eventually waned. Michael had seen through him from the start, and says Shah's doctor act was weak. " I told him I just had a cold, to which he replied: 'Ok. Take a lot of vitamin c and always eat fruit. You look healthy and great. You are a good looking man.' That seemed even more bogus than the rest of Shah's line of patter, so Michael finally stopped responding.
Sadly, there are people in this week's installment of the story who weren't so lucky.