Teen sues father over $1 million trust fund

September 13, 2011 4:34:21 PM PDT
Just days after the 10 year anniversary of September 11th, a local family finds itself torn apart in a legal fight over money that came to them after the tragedy. This family lost a loved one in the World Trade Center that fateful day.

There's no question this family has been through so much. The daughter is a student at the University of Houston, fighting her father now for a million dollars she says she is due from her mother's death.

Soniya Raju was nearly nine years old when she lost her mother in the World Trade Center attacks of September 11th. She says she received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund -- money which she fears her father has spent.

She said, "He won't show me any documents over it; he won't show me any paperwork or anything like that."

According to the lawsuit she claims Raju Thankachan has "...embezzled or misapplied..." the money which was to be put in a trust fund for her and would be hers when she turned 18, which she did last year. She's not sure what might be left.

Raju says her father cut her off in July. The suit states he that he was "...disloyal...failed to act with utmost good faith, fairness and honesty, and allowed his interest to interfere and conflict..." with hers. On the advice of her attorney she's suing for one million dollars.

"It's hard," Raju admitted. "At first it was really hard, it was, like, heart-breaking and it was really depressing to think my own father would do something like this to me."

Thankachan denies any wrongdoing. He says he initially received less than $700,000 for his children from the victim's compensation fund and claims there is now only about $500,000 left. He admits being an alcoholic as his daughter alleges in the filing. But he couldn't or wouldn't explain where the balance of the money might be.

"I ordered her trust fund, apart from that, so, I have nothing else to say," he told Eyewitness News.

Raju admits she has never called law enforcement alleging that a crime occurred, saying she just doesn't have the proof. She does hope that one day she and her father will be able to repair their relationship, no matter what happens to the money.

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