Philip Bernardini, the 30-year-old Italian He was arrested in January last year at JFK Airport in New YorkHe admitted to stealing more than 1,000 unpublished manuscripts, many of which were written by notable authors, including Margaret Atwood, Ethan Hawke, Stig Larson, and Sally Rooney.
The man, based in London and employed by publishing giant Simon & Schuster, admitted he used his connections in the field to get authors to ship him unpublished books and scripts, posing as an agent, house publisher or talent scout. He then pleaded guilty to computer fraud, though his motives are still far from clear. As far as investigators know, in fact, the contents of the manuscripts have not been leaked or published, and no ransom demands have been made.
The FBI noted in the motive the goal of “stealing others’ literary ideas”, but there were also those who spoke of the mere personal satisfaction of reading the texts before everyone else. Now Bernardini will stand trial, and he will face up to 20 years in prison. However, his lawyers agreed to a prison sentence of between 15 and 21 months, and a fine not exceeding $75,000.
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