Dinesh Kumar Shah, the violent con-man featured in two Houston Press cover stories from this summer, is currently on trial again. This time around, he's in criminal court answering to allegations that he assaulted a former dancer for the Houston Ballet.
Today that dancer took the stand under direct questioning from prosecutor Kelli Johnson and told a jury in Judge Jeannine Barr's court what happened over the course of the three years he knew Shah. (We're leaving the dancer's name out of this for reasons that will become apparent soon.)
The Swedish-born dancer says that in 2006 he was 19 years old and new in town and working for $385 a week as an apprentice dancer at the ballet when Shah first entered his life. The dancer says he was sitting on a gaspipe outside his Montrose apartment when Shah pulled up in an Audi and asked him if he worked for the ballet. Shah went on to brag that his father (who he claimed was dead) had been instrumental in bringing former director Ben Stevenson to town.
Those were the first of many lies Shah would tell the dancer. Shah's father was not dead then, nor is he now. And he had nothing to do with Stevenson coming to town.
The dancer, now 24, was intrigued. He said it was part of his unofficial mandate as an employee of the ballet to forge relationships with powerful potential donors, and Shah seemed like just such a person, very much "an established man in the city," as he put it on the stand. For three years running, the dancer sent Shah birthday cards with original poetry in them, and gifted him occasionally with bottles of Scotch and Swedish vodka.