When Jonathan Taylor Spielberg first entered a Catholic high school in Fairfax City, school officials thought he was doing research for a film role as a high school student, a diocese spokesman said yesterday.
The school received an entrance application with a money order and a letter with the logos of filmmaker Steven Spielberg's company, DreamWorks SKG, but an administrator became dubious of the student's claim that he was Steven Spielberg's nephew, according to an affidavit filed yesterday in Fairfax County. The administrator eventually made a phone call that led to Jonathan Spielberg's arrest.
Fairfax City police, delving into the life of the man they arrested Monday on various fraud charges, believe Jonathan Spielberg was 19 when he began taking classes as a freshman at Paul VI Catholic High School and 20 when he was charged.
The court papers included new details about how Spielberg convinced Paul VI officials that he was the nephew of one of Hollywood's most powerful figures, apparently enabling him to attend school sporadically and park his shiny blue BMW in the principal's parking spot.
When police searched Spielberg's Fairfax City apartment Monday night, they removed 74 videotapes, as well as Paul VI schoolbooks and four photos of Steven Spielberg, according to court records. Police would not say what kinds of videotapes were found or discuss other evidence.
Spielberg, who legally changed his name from Anoushirvan D. Fakhran in August 1997, was arrested a second time on Wednesday night--this time, police said, for lying about his age in his name change petition. In that filing, he listed his birth date as Jan. 2, 1973. Police said in the affidavit filed yesterday that Spielberg's driver's license lists a birth date of Aug. 24, 1979, and that he told Paul VI officials he was born Jan. 2, 1984.
Earlier this week, Spielberg said he was "no older than 18." He has declined to be interviewed since then.
The school's principal, the Rev. John Lyle, has not commented on the case. The Rev. Robert J. Rippy, a spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, said the diocese was preparing a letter to parents that he hoped would be mailed this weekend. He said he did not know whether Spielberg received any special treatment at Paul VI.
Spielberg's contact with Paul VI began in fall 1998, Fairfax City police Detective Michael D. Boone wrote in an affidavit for a search warrant of Spielberg's apartment and 1998 two-door BMW. At that time, a woman calling herself Claudia Southwell phoned school officials and asked if they would consider enrolling Steven Spielberg's nephew on a temporary basis, Boone wrote.
Southwell told the school that "Jonathan would be in the Washington area for several months shooting a film in which he was playing a high school student," the affidavit states. Southwell reportedly said that "tutors have always educated him so Jonathan never had the experience of being in a regular day school."
Rippy said school officials were told Spielberg wanted to "participate in classes for a role he would be playing," in order "to learn what student life was like."
In September 1998, the school received a completed application with a $25 money order from DreamWorks, Boone wrote. After Lyle reviewed the application, Spielberg was granted "temporary acceptance" and began attending classes once or twice a week in October 1998.
Later, Rippy said, Spielberg told the school he wanted to remain in Virginia as a full-time student. When Spielberg provided transcripts from the "Beverly Hills Private School for Actors" in Los Angeles, Boone said, Paul VI enrolled him as a full-time student for the current school year. Police said there is no such Beverly Hills acting school.
A Paul VI administrator apparently became suspicious of Jonathan Spielberg, and last week called Spielberg's private security firm in Los Angeles, Boone wrote. The firm, Berman and Ely, reported that Spielberg had no nephews in the area. The firm then contacted Fairfax City police.
Spielberg was arraigned yesterday on a new charge of forging a public document. On the booking sheet he listed his occupation: actor.