FBI raids magician David Copperfield in Vegas

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The FBI has raided magician David Copperfield’s warehouse and a theater where he performs in Las Vegas following sexual misconduct accusations by an unidentified woman, authorities and his lawyers said on Friday.

The FBI would not disclose the nature of its investigation of Copperfield, saying only that federal agents had raided the Las Vegas warehouse as part of a criminal probe based in Seattle.

“We’re just confirming that investigative activity took place at the warehouse,” David Staretz, chief division counsel for the FBI in Las Vegas, told Reuters.

Published reports said the woman had come forward in Seattle to accuse the popular illusionist of sexual misconduct while both were in the Bahamas, and that agents had seized some $2 million and computer equipment.

“It is important these allegations be put into perspective, his attorney, David Chesnoff, said in a prepared statement released through his law firm.

“An unidentified woman has made serious allegations against David Copperfield,” Chesnoff said.

“Although authorities have not revealed her identity to us, we know these allegations are false because David Copperfield has never forced himself on anyone.”

Chesnoff could not be reached to discuss the case further.

Copperfield, 51, uses the Las Vegas warehouse as an office, for rehearsals and to store memorabilia and props and keeps an apartment on the second floor, the Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper reported.

A spokesman for MGM Grand hotel said FBI agents also searched its Hollywood Theatre, where Copperfield performs regularly, but declined to discuss the matter further. Copperfield is next scheduled to appear there in November.

Media reports said FBI agents seized nearly $2 million in cash from the warehouse, along with a computer hard drive and a memory chip from a digital camera system during Wednesday’s late-night operation.

The local CBS affiliate, KLAS-TV, quoted a source as saying the cash was stashed in a safe and that agents took the cash.

Copperfield, whose real name is David Kotkin, is famed for such illusions as making the Statue of Liberty disappear and walking through the Great Wall of China.

Additional reporting by Ian Mylchreest in Las Vegas and Elaine Porterfield in Seattle