The Internal Revenue Service will go to almost any lengths to retrieve back taxes. In a case against an Iranian immigrant, federal officials are considering following the man into the grave.
The U.S. attorney's office says it might ask to exhume the body of Ehsanolla Motaghed just to make sure he is dead. Motaghed apparently died June 9 without paying $156,000 in back taxes.
"They're just mad because he had the audacity to die without settling his account," said James Martin Davis, the attorney for Motaghed's estate.
Motaghed, 66, who ran an optical lens importing business, was indicted April 25 for allegedly offering a $4,000 cash bribe to an IRS agent. He pleaded innocent and was free on bail.
According to both Davis and local death records, Motaghed died June 9 in his Omaha apartment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease. He was buried June 12.
The U.S. attorney's office has said it is considering seeking a Douglas County Court order to have the body exhumed. Assistant U.S. Atty. Bob Kokrda has declined to say why officials suspect Motaghed is not dead.
"This is about as grotesque a thing as I've ever dealt with," said Davis, who has asked the court to dismiss the charges.
"It's an identification problem," Kokrda said in an interview. "It was four days after he was put in the ground that we read in the paper that he died. We're just trying to satisfy ourselves" that the man died.