HAMMOND | A Gary couple who won a $350,000 lawsuit against the son of the leader of the Nation of Islam last year are going after the religious organization for the money because the son won't pay.
But the issue could have much wider implications for the religious organization than just having to pay Nasir Farrakhan's damages. He was found to have crashed into another car on the Indiana Toll Road and the fled the scene -- all while under the influence of drugs -- in 2003.
Michael Back, attorney for Gladys and Charles Peterson, said Wednesday the inquiry into Farrakhan's refusal to pay the punitive damages awarded them in the accident has led to questions about why so many people do not pay taxes on the income they receive from the Nation of Islam.
"The testimony from guards, Nasir and (spiritual leader) Louis (Farrakhan) is that all these people get a charity, where they feel they don't have to claim it as income," Back said. "But our expert witness says clearly this is income, and these people must file tax returns."
The Petersons filed motions this week to garnish Nasir Farrakhan's "income" from Louis Farrakhan and the organization, but a federal judge will have to rule on whether Farrakhan is legally "employed" by the church.
The legal controversy comes at a rocky time for Nasir Farrakhan, who lost his lawyer after a Cook Circuit Court judge ruled his insurance company does not have to continue to pay a lawyer to defend him.
Nasir Farrakhan, 48, testified in a public deposition last month he has never paid income taxes and that all of his income comes from weekly cash payments delivered to him in envelopes by nation officials.
In court records, he said he is unable to pay the Petersons because he receives no income at all -- just "charity" from the nation, which is not taxable.