University of Minnesota professor convicted of cheating his ex-wife out of retirement savings
A Hennepin County District Court jury deliberated for less than two hours before finding a University of Minnesota professor guilty of falsifying his retirement account’s value in an attempt to cheat his ex-wife out of her share, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Monday.
Massoud Amin, 57, was convicted of one count of attempted theft by swindle over $35,000 and two counts of aggravated forgery. The jury also found several aggravating factors in the case, including multiple incidents of theft by swindle over a long period of time and potential loss of more than $100,000 to Amin’s ex-wife. Sentencing is scheduled for November 9 and the Hennepin County Attorney’s prosecutors will be seeking a tougher sentence than the sentencing guidelines recommend.
“We are pleased by the jury’s quick decision,” Freeman said. “Not only was he trying to cheat his wife out of what was rightfully hers, but he also was deceiving the court in his filings. Apparently, because he was one of the top people in his field, he thought he could outsmart police and the courts. He was wrong and we will now ask the judge for a tough sentence.”
According to the criminal complaint and testimony in court, on July 12, 2016, Minneapolis police responded to a call from Amin’s ex-wife who reported that Amin had offered forged documents to her divorce attorney. The documents, from Amin’s retirement accounts associated with his employer, the University of Minnesota where Amin is a professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering and the Director of the Technological Leadership Institute, showed a value of $745,012. Amin’s ex-wife said she believed the amount was significantly higher.
Further investigation revealed that Amin attempted to reduce the value of the marital assets in his retirement accounts by offering several forged financial statement related to one account and intentionally omitting information related to a second retirement account. The investigation revealed that Amin’s wife would have been swindled out of $353,649 in assets.
Her attorney subpoenaed TIAA-CREF, the financial service organization that administers the accounts, and discovered the actual value of Amin’s accounts was $891,116.44. On Nov. 30, 2015, a consultant for TIAA-CREF testified that the statements offered by Amin did not originate from the organization and a certified fraud examiner also testified that the statements were falsified.
On Jan. 29, 2016, a trial referee from the Fourth Judicial Court found that Amin provided the false statement to support a lower, inaccurate value of his retirement accounts in an attempt to conceal his assets.