Murder victim’s brother pushed for investigation into suspicious death (IL)

The brother of the Illinois lottery winner murdered last year says he’s the one who raised questions about the mysterious death.

Urooj Khan won $1 million in the lottery in May, and was killed in July.

His brother, Imtiaz Khan, tells the Chicago Tribune about a week after his brother’s unexpected death, Imtiaz Khan asked the medical examiner’s office to take another look at the case.

Additional testing eventually discovered his brother died of cyanide poisoning.

Khan and his sister are currently in a court battle with his brother’s widow over his estate, which includes the lottery winnings and dry cleaning business.

Kahn’s widow, Shabana, and her father were questioned about her husband’s death.  Both have denied any involvement in the homicide and have not been accused of a crime.

Imtiaz Khan says he wants to make sure Khan’s daughter from a previous marriage receives her share of her father’s estate.

Attribution:

Murder victim’s brother pushed for investigation into suspicious death
WGN Web Desk
February 11, 2013
WGNTV.com
http://wgntv.com/2013/02/11/murder-victims-brother-pushed-for-investigation-into-suspicious-death/

Additional coverage:

Poisoned Lotto Winner’s Widow Said She Has Proof of Her Estate Claim
Susanna Kim
February 8, 2013
ABCNews.com
http://abcnews.go.com/Business/poisoned-lotto-winners-widow-proof-stake-estate/story?id=18441474

The widow of poisoned lottery winner Urooj Khan has presented documents purporting to show that most of Khan’s estate belongs to her.

Al-Haroon Husain, an attorney for Khan’s widow, Shabana Ansari, said Khan signed a document two months before his death, stating that his portion of his dry cleaning business would go to his wife if he died.

Signed May 2, this “operating agreement” presented to the probate court on Thursday indicates that two-thirds of Khan’s estate would go to Ansari, Husain said. Khan reportedly did not have a will, Husain and Khan’s siblings contend.

Ansari, 32, and Khan’s siblings are in a legal dispute over Khan’s assets, which include his winnings from a $1 million jackpot distributed in July.

A copy of the 38-page document provided to ABC News appears to that an agreement between Khan and his business partner, Mohammed Shaker, included a clause that read: “Members shall transfer their interest to their respective spouse upon member’s death.”

Khan’s brother said the agreement was “baseless and nonsense,” according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

“Why would he [sign an agreement] to transfer everything to his wife? Did he know that he was going to die? Did he know [someone] was going to kill him?” Imtiaz Khan told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Husain said he and Ansari discovered the clause in the document after the judge asked for an inventory of the estate.

“He can question it as much as he wants,” Husain said of Khan’s brother. “Mr. Khan and his business partner signed off on it. It’s the operating agreement for their company. He may not like it but fortunately, the law is the law.”

Khan, 46, was an immigrant from India who owned dry-cleaning businesses in Chicago. He was announced the winner of a million-dollar lottery jackpot in June and chose to take the lump sum payout amounting to $425,000 after taxes.

When he died on July 20 in Chicago, the medical examiner’s office believed he had died of natural causes. It wasn’t until after he was buried that a family member asked the office to conduct further tests. After examining fluid samples, the office found a lethal level of cyanide and Khan’s death was declared a homicide.

The autopsy of Khan’s body was conducted after his body was exhumed Jan. 18 from the Rose Hill Cemetery in Chicago.

Dr. Stephen Cina, Cook County Chief Medical Examiner, said enough tissue samples were recovered from Khan’s body to proceed with further testing. The samples taken included those from his hair, finger nails, stomach contents, and other solid organs.

The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office is trying to find more details about his death, such as whether the poison was inhaled, swallowed, or injected.

Khan’s family said they were suspicious after he died.

“He was a healthy guy, you know?” his nephew Minhaj Khan told ABC News in January. “He worked so hard. He was always going about his business and, the thing is: After he won the lottery and the next day later he passes away — it’s awkward. It raises some eyebrows.”

Khan’s brother filed a petition last month to a judge asking Citibank to release information about Khan’s assets to “ultimately ensure” that [Khan's] minor daughter from a prior marriage “receives her proper share.”

Ansari may have tried to cash the jackpot check after Khan’s death, according to court documents, which also showed Urooj Khan’s family is questioning if the couple was ever even legally married.

Ansari, Urooj Khan’s second wife, who still works at the couple’s dry cleaning business, has insisted they were married legally.

She has told reporters the night before her husband died, she cooked a traditional Indian meal for him and their family, including Khan’s daughter and Ansari’s father. Not feeling well, Khan retired early, Ansari told the Chicago Sun-Times, falling asleep in a chair, waking up in agony, then collapsing in the middle of the night. She said she called 911.

Her attorney said she has nothing to do with her late husband’s death and has cooperated with the authorities.

ABC News’ Michael James and Alex Perez contributed to this report.

Man who mysteriously died after winning lottery had made business deal for wife’s benefit
Jason Meisner/JEeremy Gorner
February 7, 2013
Chicago Tribune
http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/02/07/182405/man-who-mysteriously-died-after.html

CHICAGO — CHICAGO-Weeks before he died mysteriously from cyanide poisoning after winning a $1 million lottery jackpot, a North Side businessman inked a deal with his business partner to ensure that his share of several dry cleaning stores went to his wife in the event of his death.

The unusual agreement is sure to fuel the fight among relatives of Urooj Khan over his estate, once estimated at $2 million. Khan’s siblings had already raised concerns that his widow, Shabana Ansari, might keep the lottery winnings for herself instead of sharing the proceeds with Khan’s 17-year-old daughter from a previous marriage.

In an interview with The Chicago Tribune, Khan’s sister, Meraj Khan, said the her suspicions of Ansari’s motives have intensified since learning Thursday of the business agreement.

“Things are getting more clear about why my brother is gone,” the sister said. “Out of nowhere she’s the beneficiary for…the business?”

Ansari has been questioned by Chicago police detectives in her husband’s death, but she has denied any wrongdoing and has not been accused of a crime.

The business contract means that Ansari owns half of the dry cleaning operation and its real estate, valued at more than $1 million, instead of those assets being divided among heirs in probate court, according to Ansari’s lawyer, Al-Haroon Husain.

“It’s a bit unusual,” Husain said following a hearing in the Daley Center. “I just think he wanted to make sure his wife had a business and had attachment to the commercial property if something happened to him.”

In addition, a real-estate agreement Khan signed with his wife in 2007 entitles her to sole ownership of their Rogers Park home, which is valued at almost half a million dollars, Husain said.

If those assets are not included, Khan’s estate is worth only about $680,000, including the $425,000 in lottery winnings, according to documents filed Thursday by Husain. When a final value for the estate is determined, it will likely be split evenly between Ansari and Khan’s daughter, he said.

“He died without a will, so under Illinois law it would be split 50-50,” Husain said. “The only difference is 50-50 of what?”

Khan and his partner, Shakir Mohammed, a childhood friend from their native India, signed the 40-page agreement last May 2, according to a copy obtained by the Tribune. A sentence in bold on page 23 states, “Members shall transfer their interest to their respective spouse upon member’s death.

Khan, 46, won the lottery prize later in May and died suddenly in mid-July before he collected the check.

“I don’t believe he ever thought he’d be passing away so soon thereafter,” Husain said.

Meraj Khan said Khan went into business with Mohammed to help his friend gain legal status in this country. In return, Mohammed agreed to help pay off the balance of the property Khan purchased for the dry cleaners, she said.

Tribune efforts to reach Mohammed and his attorney were not successful Thursday.

As the Tribune first revealed last month, the Cook County medical examiner’s office initially ruled that Khan died from hardening of the arteries after no signs of trauma were found on his body and a preliminary blood test did not raise any questions. But the investigation was reopened about a week later after a relative raised concerns that Khan may have been poisoned.

Chicago police became involved in September after further testing found cyanide in Khan’s blood. By late November, more comprehensive testing showed lethal levels of the toxic chemical, leading the medical examiner’s office to declare his death a homicide.

Last month authorities exhumed Khan’s body in order to perform an autopsy and gather additional evidence. No results have been made public yet.

While a motive for Khan’s homicide has not been determined, police have not ruled out that he was killed because of his lottery win, a law enforcement source has told the Tribune.

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