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Monday, May 27, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Couple Says Their Imam Swiped $300,000

HOUSTON (CN) - A married couple sued their mosque's imam, claiming she refuses to return $300,000 they asked her to safeguard while they traveled to Pakistan.

Karen and Sam Lakhani sued Nargis Daredia in Harris County Court.

"Plaintiffs and defendant were close friends who have known each other for over forty years," the complaint states. "Their families grew up and reside closely with each other in Pakistan. Plaintiffs and defendant are also currently members of the same congregation at a private, religious mosque in Houston, Texas. At the mosque, the defendant maintains a position of leadership and is known and referred to as an 'Imam.'"

The Lakhanis say in March 2012 after several conversations with Daredia she "agreed that in her capacity as an Imam, defendant would hold on to plaintiffs' money for safekeeping while plaintiffs traveled overseas."

They gave her $300,000 cash, and she "stressed the importance of keeping their arrangement a secret for security reasons," which they honored given her role as their imam and their decades-long friendship, according to the complaint.

"In August of 2012, plaintiffs decided not to travel overseas due to numerous conflicts of schedules and the tumultuous political climate in Pakistan," the complaint states. "Subsequently, plaintiff Karen personally requested that defendant return all the money that was entrusted to her for safekeeping in accordance with plaintiffs' religious beliefs.

"Defendant denied knowledge of any prior discussions, agreements, arrangements and/or transactions that occurred in March and April of 2012 between the plaintiffs and defendant.

"To date, defendant refuses to acknowledge any attempts to account for plaintiffs $300,000 that was entrusted to her by the plaintiffs. On or about October 8, 2012, plaintiffs sent a demand letter to which defendant has remained silent."

The Lakhanis demand the $300,000, and punitive damages for breach of fiduciary duty.

They are represented by David Tang with Michael P. Fleming & Associates.

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