Man charged in high-profile murder held without bond on fraud charges

By Joel Eisenbaum - Investigative Reporter , Jace Larson - Investigative Reporter

HOUSTON - A Jordanian-born man facing state charges for the shooting death of an Iranian student and women's rights activist has been ordered held without bond on federal fraud charges for what authorities say was his involvement in a benefits scheme.

Ali Irsan told U.S. Magistrate Judge Nancy Johnson during an initial court appearance Tuesday he had only about $800 to his name and would need an appointed attorney.

Johnson set a detention hearing for Thursday. Federal prosecutors said evidence at the hearing likely would show some connection to his state indictment for the slaying of Gelareh Bagherzadeh. The 30-year-old woman, a critic of the Tehran government, was gunned down near her parents' Houston home in 2012.

His daughter, Nadia Irsan, earlier Tuesday told a federal judge she has no attorney and has made no attempt to contact one.

Nadia Irsan, 39, wore a green jail suit, black headscarf, handcuffs and chains at her ankles during a brief appearance Tuesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Nancy Johnson.

Nadia Irsan, her father, Ali Irsan, and his wife were arrested last week at their home in Conroe on charges of conspiracy to defraud the U.S., theft of public money and benefits fraud.


The charges in the federal criminal complaint allege Ali Irsan and his wife falsified documents in order to receive Social Security disability benefits with the assistance of his daughter, Nadia Irsan.

Ali Irsan and his family allegedly secreted assets, such as real estate, vehicles and currency, which would make him and his wife ineligible to receive benefits.

We're told Ali Irsan at one point had two wives, which he says is not illegal in his native Jordan.

Ali Irsan, 56, also has been indicted in Houston for the slaying of Gelareh Bagherzadeh. Investigators say Ali Irsan shot and killed Bagherzadeh outside her Galleria-area home on Jan. 15, 2012. She was a graduate student and friends with the suspect's daughter. The 30-year-old was also an outspoken critic of the Tehran government.

Local 2 Investigates has previously reported that investigators believe Irsan also murdered two other people. One of them is Irsan's daughter's husband, Coty Beavers.

Investigators have also looked into a connection between the murder of another daughter's husband in 1999. He has not been charged in either of those two murders.

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.

Information from The Associated Press was also used in this report.

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