2017 Rogues’ Gallery: Indian Americans Who Made News for Wrong Reasons

first_imgThe year that just went by propelled many ordinary people into limelight for their alleged notorious acts. While the death of 3-year-old Sherin Mathews brought her parents Wesley and Sini Mathews into headlines across the world, Abhishek Gattani’s ill-treatment of his wife spurred discussions on the prevalence of domestic abuse in Silicon Valley. Bikram Choudhury grabbed attention once again for his failed “hot yoga” empire, and disgraced businessman John Kapoor brought into public eye the ills pervading the pharma industry in the United States.Little India recaps some of the Indian Americans who were in the news for wrong reasons in 2017:Wesley and Sini MathewsWesley MathewsOn Oct. 7, 2017, 3-year-old Sherin Mathews went missing at Richardson, Texas. Two weeks later, the police found her body in a culvert near her house, following which the police arrested her father Wesley Mathews.Wesley said that Sherin choked on the milk that he was forcing her to drink. He changed his statements in the following days, eventually saying that he took her body along with the trash, and disposed it in the culvert. Wesley is charged with child endangerment and faces a life sentence.Sherin MathewsSini Mathews also faces charges of child endangerment and abandonment. Charges against her were pressed after it was found that the couple and their biological daughter went out for dinner on Oct. 6, leaving Sherin at home without any supervision for an hour and a half. The child was placed “in imminent danger of death, bodily injury, or physical or mental impairment,” Detective J Farmer wrote in Sini Mathews’ arrest warrant.Sherin was adopted from an orphanage in Bihar 18 months before her death. The parents are currently fighting for custody of their biological daughter who was taken by Child Protective Services after Sherin went missing.John KapoorJohn KapoorOn Oct. 26, Pharma billionaire John Kapoor, the founder of Insys Therapeutics Inc., was arrested on charges of using bribery and fraud to promote prescription of an opioid pain medication to patients. Launched in 2012, the medicine was meant for stage-end cancer patients but was allegedly prescribed to non-cancer patients as well. According to prosecutors, Insys is an example of American pharmaceutical companies prioritizing profits over public health.Kapoor, 74, who stepped down as the company’s CEO in January 2017, pleaded not guilty to these charges and of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, and conspiracy to violate the anti-kickback law in November.On Dec. 21, 2017, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein filed an unfair trade lawsuit against the already embattled company for allegedly bribing doctors to prescribe Subsys, the oral spray meant for cancer patients.Bikram ChoudhuryBikram Choudhury, the founder of a California-based yoga organization that promoted his “hot” yoga practice, was heaped with accusations of sexual assault by many women, including his students and instructors. After an arrest warrant was issued against him in May, the 73-year-old yoga practitioner fled the United States and is currently absconding. His “hot yoga” practice required people to perform yoga in a room heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit, which was perhaps meant to simulate Indian weather conditions.Choudhury’s former lawyer wrote in a lawsuit against him in 2013: “Bikram Choudhury created a hyper-sexualized, offensive and degrading environment for women by, among other things, demanding that female staffers brush his hair and give him massages.”In court filings made on Nov. 9, Bikram Choudhury Yoga Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after multiple court judgments made the company liable to pay $16.7 million to multiple women for sexual assault.Zain JafferZain JafferZain Jaffer, the co-founder of San Francisco-based startup Vungle, a mobile ad company, was arrested in October, over charges of sexually abusing his children. Jaffer, who has a three-year-old son and one-year-old daughter, was accused of felony assault, lewd act upon a child, and other related charges. The 29-year-old entrepreneur was “charged with two counts of child abuse, against his son and daughter, as well as oral copulation of a person under 14, lewd act upon a child and assault likely to produce great bodily injury,” Forbes reported citing Steve Wagstaffe, the San Mateo County District Attorney.Jaffer was also charged with misdemeanor battery upon a police officer and emergency personnel. Jaffer pleaded not guilty, according to his attorney who spoke to Forbes magazine. Jaffer was part of Forbes 30-under-30 list in 2012.Abhishek GattaniAbhishek GattaniThe case of domestic abuse involving two Silicon Valley techies Neha Rastogi and Abhishek Gattani blew open early in the year, and shook people for the shocking incidents in their 10-year marriage. Rastogi said Gattani began abusing her shortly after the marriage, and he was even arrested four years ago when the mailman saw him beating her on the sidewalk. Rastogi had then bailed him out in hope, according to her statement, that he would change for the better for the sake of their three-month-old daughter.When the abuse began again, she started recording his acts in audio and video clips and went to the same police in July 2016. Gattani faced charges of felony assault and domestic violence.However, a plea deal was reached between the prosecution and defense despite Rastogi’s protests. The District Attorney’s Office wrote a memo defending the plea agreement, talking about the difficulties prosecutors would face if the case went to trial. The memo also said that by the time Rastogi went to police, she only had two faint bruises, which does not meet the “traumatic condition” required to prove a felony.The prosecution came to an agreement with him for “felony accessory after fact” and “offensive touching.” The case was rescheduled after Rastogi read out a statement questioning the reducing the 10 years of abuse to “offensive touching.” In June 2017, the judge upheld his sentence of letting Gattani serve only 13 days in jail. Related ItemsIndian Americanlast_img

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