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United States v. Tahir

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

July 3, 2018

United States of America, Plaintiff,
v.
Shahid Tahir, Defendant, and AIG, Garnishee.

          OPINION & ORDER DENYING WITHOUT PREJUDICE GOVERNMENT'S ORAL MOTION FOR EVIDENTIARY HEARING OR SHOW CAUSE HEARING WITH DEFENDANT'S WIFE

          Sean F. Cox United States District Judge.

         In a criminal case before this Court, Defendant Shahid Tahir (“Tahir”) pled guilty to conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud and this Court imposed a large fine and restitution award, in addition to a term of imprisonment of 126 months. The Government is trying to garnish various accounts and assets held by Tahir, in order to satisfy the fine and restitution. The Government subpoenaed documents in the criminal case, that showed that Tahir has a life insurance policy with a company called “American General Life Insurance Company.”

         The Government later filed this miscellaneous action, seeking to garnish various assets and accounts, including that life insurance policy.[1] The Government, however, sought and prepared a writ of garnishment to “AIG” as the garnishee, without spelling out the actual name of the entity referred to by that acronym, American International Group, Inc. (“AIG”). And more importantly, AIG is not the entity that issued or possessed the policy at issue, so the Government apparently named the wrong entity in the writ of garnishment that it requested and obtained. To compound the problem, the Government did not properly serve AIG with the writ of garnishment. If it had, AIG would have let the Government know of the error. By the time AIG learned of the erroneous writ, through informal communications with the Government's paralegal, Defendant Tahir had already cashed out his policy with the correct entity, American General Life Insurance Company. After AIG learned of the writ of garnishment, it filed an Answer indicating that it does not possess any policies belonging to Tahir.

         The Government requested that this Court hold a show cause hearing with both AIG and Tahir. The Court held that show cause hearing on June 29, 2018. At that time, the Government advised that it had settled its dispute with AIG. Tahir was represented by counsel at the hearing, who gave an accounting of how the insurance proceeds that were deposited into Tahir's joint bank account with his wife were spent.

         At the hearing, Counsel for the Government orally requested that the Court order Tahir's wife to appear before the Court, or hold an evidentiary hearing. But Counsel could not explain what relief it could ask of this Court, as to either Tahir or his wife, if the insurance proceeds have already been spent. As such, the Court shall deny the Government's request without prejudice.

         BACKGROUND

         In Criminal Case Number 15-20351, Defendant Tahir pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Commit Health Care Fraud and Wire Fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1349, 18 U.S.C. § 1347(a), and § 1343. This Court sentenced Tahir to a term of imprisonment of 126 months. This Court's November 21, 2016 judgment also ordered Tahir to pay a fine of $8, 500, 000.00 and restitution in the amount of $17, 072, 572.98. Various assets were forfeited but a significant amount remains outstanding.

         On February 14, 2017, the Government issued a subpoena to “AIG American General” in the criminal case, seeking any documents relative to financial transactions with Tahir. (See Ex. 2 to Garnishee's Br.). AIG's brief states that while “AIG American General” is not an actual legal entity, because the Government mailed it to American General's Legal Department, American General received notice of it and responded to it.

         On March 7, 2017, paralegal Lisa Hamby at AIG Life and Retirement's Legal Department in Brentwood, Tennessee responded to the subpoena on behalf of American General Life. (See Garnishee's Ex. 3). The documents produced to the Government showed that Tahir owned a life insurance policy, Policy Number VL0041394, with American General Life of Delaware, and that entity merged with “American General Life Insurance Company” effective December 31, 2012. (See Garnishee's Ex. 1). Thus, it appears that the policy at issue in this petition is one that Tahir had with “American General Life Insurance Company.”

         On November 21, 2017, the Government filed this miscellaneous action in order to obtain writs of garnishment, directed to various entities that hold assets or amounts of money owed to Tahir.

         On November 21, 2017, the Government requested and obtained a Writ of Garnishment directed to:

AIG HR Shared Services 2727 B. Allen Pkwy Houston, TX 77019

(D.E. No. 13).

         The Certificate of Service filed by the Government on November 30, 2017 states that on that same date the Government mailed the writ and related documents, by regular U.S. mail, to: 1) Tahir by “c/o Harold Gurewitz” who at that time was not representing in this miscellaneous case;[2] and 2) AIG HR Shared Services at 2727 B. Allen Pkwy in Houston, Texas. (D.E. No. 8). Thus, it appears that the Government did not ...


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