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Real estate heiress settles wrongful-death suit brought by ex-boyfriend’s family

Tiffany Li arrives at the courthouse in Redwood City, Calif.
Tiffany Li arrives at the courthouse in Redwood City, Calif., in September 2019.
(Tony Avelar / Associated Press)

A real estate heiress who was acquitted of murder charges in 2019 in the death of the father of her children has settled a wrongful-death lawsuit brought by his family.

The announcement made Wednesday caps off a series of events that prosecutors say started April 28, 2016, at a pancake restaurant and resulted in Keith Green’s death. Tiffany Li, whose family made a fortune in real estate construction in China, met with her ex-boyfriend to discuss custody of their two daughters.

It was the last time Green was seen alive. Two weeks later, his body was found in a ravine in the Bay Area.

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Li was charged with murder in Green’s death, and her case drew international attention when her family and friends posted a $35-million bail after she spent a year in custody.

Prosecutors argued that Li orchestrated Green’s murder with her then-boyfriend, Kaveh Bayat, because she was afraid of losing custody of her children. Li was accused of luring Green to her mansion in Hillsborough, south of San Francisco, where Bayat then shot Green in the mouth, according to prosecutors.

A San Francisco Bay Area real estate heiress whose family posted $35 million bail to keep her out of jail has been acquitted of killing her children’s father.

The couple then hired Olivier Adella to get rid of Green’s body, the San Mateo County district attorney’s office said.

During the criminal trial, prosecutors argued that Green’s blood was found in Li’s car and there was evidence a gun was fired inside her garage.

Li blamed Adella and Bayat for Green’s death, saying he was killed during a botched kidnapping attempt. But after 12 days of deliberation, a jury acquitted Li of murder. A vote was split on Bayat’s murder charge, resulting in a hung jury.

Green’s mother, Colleen Cudd, filed a wrongful death lawsuit in 2018 against Li and Bayat. The suit is structured so that Cudd, Green’s estate and his daughters are named plaintiffs in the lawsuit against Li, who has sole custody of the girls and currently lives in China.

In September, Li agreed to pay Cudd $150,000 as an individual in the case and toward Green’s funeral and burial expenses, according to court records.

Cudd argues that “Li is responsible for the death of her only son, and she blames Defendant Tiffany Li for eroding her ability to communicate with her only grandchildren,” according to court records.

In response, Li maintains in court filings that she is a single parent and her daughters were too young when the lawsuit was filed by their grandmother to understand the circumstances of their father’s death or the court proceedings. Li blamed Cudd and her attorneys for causing her daughters to be named as parties suing their own mother. The two minors are represented in the case by a court-appointed guardian.

On Wednesday, the parties in the civil lawsuit announced they would settle out of court. The terms of the agreement are confidential, according to Cudd’s attorney, Donald Macgilligan. The settlement was reached between Li and the court-appointed guardian.

Li’s attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The civil trial was set to begin at the end of this month.


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