Man charged in high-profile murder had 200 credit cards in his name

By Joel Eisenbaum - Investigative Reporter

HOUSTON - A man accused in the shooting death of an Iranian student and women's rights activist was back in court Thursday for a hearing on federal fraud charges.

Ali Irsan, his wife, Shmou Ali Alrawabdeh, and his daughter are all facing fraud charges. Ali and his wife have been assigned court-appointed lawyers.

A Social Security Administration investigator testified Ali and Shmou received supplemental social security benefits intended for indigent or disabled persons, and both obtained funds fraudulently because they don't qualify and they misrepresented assets.

Irsan allegedly started receiving the fraudulent benefits in 2002, and Shmou in 2004. Prosecutors allege they claimed they were married and collected less, then claimed they weren't married to collect more again.

According to investigators, Ali also had more than 200 credit cards in his name.

The daughter, Nadia Irsan, was allegedly hiding nearly $250,000 worth of family assets in a bank account. That money, investigators say, was traced back to Ali and Shmou. Those unreported assets are the basis of the fraud allegations.

Nadia also has at least three properties under her name and bought vehicles with cash, according to investigators. None of the trio has a job, officials say.

A federal investigator also talked briefly about the 1999 murder of Ali's son-in-law, as well as the murders of Gelareh Bagherzadeh and Cody Beavers. Bagherzadeh, 30, was a critic of the Tehran government and was gunned down near her parents' Houston home in 2012.

According to a federal investigator, shortly after Bagherzadeh was killed, a car belonging to the Irsan family was pulled over; although we don't know results of that traffic stop.

One of the family vehicles resembles a vehicle witnesses say was seen possibly leaving the scene.

Nadia told a judge she cannot hire an attorney because her assets are frozen. The judge will order the bank to release necessary funds for her to hire an attorney, and it will be facilitated by her brother, Nile Irsan.

Nadia will remain in fed custody until her next hearing on Monday at 10 a.m.

Ali Irsan is being held without bond.


Reporter Joel Eisenbaum will have the latest details coming up on Local 2 News this afternoon.

Local 2 Investigates has been following developments in this case for more than a year. You can read our original stories in the Quick Clicks section above.

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