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Lottery winner’s widow says police questioned her about his last meal

Published: Friday, Jan. 11, 2013 9:44 a.m. CST

(Continued from Page 1)

(MCT) — CHICAGO — The wife of a million-dollar lottery winner who died last year of cyanide poisoning said Thursday that Chicago police detectives had questioned her about the ingredients she used in preparing what turned out to be her husband’s last meal.

Shabana Ansari also said she believed that police had seized food from the family home after toxicological tests late last year showed that her husband, Urooj Khan, had died from lethal levels of cyanide.

Her attorney said she answered all the detectives’ questions.

Ansari; her father, Fareedun Ansari; and Khan’s teenage daughter shared a lamb curry meal with Khan on the night he died last July. They both have denied involvement in his death.

His widow said she was having a hard time believing that anyone would poison her husband.

“He was such a nice person,” she said. “No one would dare kill him.”

Cook County prosecutors plan to seek permission Friday from a judge to exhume Khan’s body in the next week or so. Chief Cook County Medical Examiner Stephen Cina wants to perform an autopsy, since none was done at the time of Khan’s death.

The medical examiner’s office initially found that Khan died of natural causes, but after a relative raised concerns about a week later, extensive toxicological tests of blood samples showed he died from lethal levels of cyanide.

Khan died before he could collect the winnings in a lump-sum payment—about $425,000 after taxes.

The investigation into his death remains on standby until his body is exhumed and an autopsy performed, police spokeswoman Melissa Stratton said Thursday .

Fareedun Ansari, 72, who identified himself as both Khan’s uncle and father-in-law, said he was present when Khan scratched the winning ticket last summer. Ansari said he was thrilled for him to win.

“He told me, ‘Uncle, I win everything. Now I don’t have any more dues (debts),’” he said. “I was happy. I was happy.”

The Chicago Tribune reported Thursday that the Internal Revenue Service placed liens on Khan’s residence almost two years ago in an effort to collect more than $120,000 in back taxes from Fareedun Ansari, who still lives at the home with his daughter since Khan’s death.

FA probate court fight ensued over the lottery winnings. Khan’s relatives had expressed concern in court filings that his widow was going to cash the lottery check and keep it for herself.

Asked Thursday if the jackpot led to fighting in the family, Shabana Ansari paused and said, “Not exactly a fight.”

A probate court judge approved Khan’s widow as the administrator of the estate, which in initial estimates was at just over $2 million, including the lottery winnings, court records show. The judge ordered the jackpot proceeds be held by a bank until it is decided how the money should be divided among Khan’s heirs.

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