Documents show lottery winner battled with siblings over estate - New York News

Court documents show lottery winner battled with siblings over estate

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The widow of a Chicago lottery winner who authorities say was poisoned with cyanide has battled with his siblings over control of his estate, including his $425,000 prize money, court documents show.

SEE: Police questioned cyanide victim's wife for hours

Urooj Khan, who owned several dry cleaning operations and some real estate, died suddenly on July 20, just days before he was to collect his winnings from the Illinois Lottery. With no signs of trauma, authorities initially ruled he died of natural causes, but a relative came forward with suspicions that prompted a fuller examination that led to the startling conclusion that he was intentionally poisoned.

The probate court documents, reviewed by The Associated Press on Wednesday, shed no light on the circumstances of Khan's death, but they do add a layer of drama to an already baffling case. As they work to unravel the mystery, police, prosecutors and the medical examiner have revealed little, naming no suspects and declining to say if the lottery win might have presented a motive.

The fact that Khan died without a will opened the door to the legal tussle over his estate, which his wife says amounts to more than $1.2 million, including the prize money, his share of the dry-cleaning businesses and real estate, as well as several vehicles and a bank account.

Under Illinois law, Khan's estate would be split between his wife and 17-year-old daughter, Jasmeen, from a previous marriage.

Khan's brother-in-law and his wife now are acting as legal guardians for Jasmeen. She has been living with them since her father died because she didn't get along with her step-mother Shabana Ansari.

This afternoon, Ansari met with her criminal defense attorney, who told FOX 32's Craig Wall, that in November--sometime after authorities determined Khan's death was the result of cyanide poisoning--Ansari talked to police for over four hours without an attorney, cooperating fully.

"Her attitude is she didn't do anything, why did she need an attorney?" says Ansani's defense attorney, Steven Kozicki.

Kozicki also told says that police executed a search warrant at the family's home, seizing computers, among other things.

"She had nothing to do with his murder, if it is a murder, which we don't even have, I can't draw that conclusion based on what I've heard so far," says Kozicki.

But court documents indicate Khan's brother was concerned that his niece Jasmeen was not going to get her share of the estate.

"They had some inquiry whether brothers or sisters could inherit," says Ansari's probate attorney, Al-Haroon Husain. "I told them in this instance, it wouldn't be the case."

In fact, the attorney representing Ansari in the probate case says the under the law, Khan's wife and daughter will split the estate evenly. But the murder investigation complicates that. Jasmeen's uncle say's the 17–year-old had nothing to do with her father's death.

"The wife and him was alone," says the victim's brother-in-law Mohammed Zaman. "They have a two story house, she was upstairs with him, nobody else was there, no other family member was there. Jasmeen was downstairs. Her room was downstairs and she was sleeping."

But Ansari's attorney says Khan's death hurt his client emotionally and financially.

"They were already wealthy before he won the lottery, and she didn't have anything, financially to gain by his death," says Kozicki.

Khan had planned to use his lottery winnings to pay off mortgages, expand his business and make a donation to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Ansari and Khan were both born in the southern India city of Hyderabad and immigrated to the United States as adults.

Khan bought his winning instant lottery ticket in June at a convenience store near his home. It was a $1 million winner, but he opted for a lump sum. After taxes, it amounted to about $425,000, according to the Illinois Lottery.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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