A federal judge, saying the son of the late shah of Iran "doesn't live like thee and me," dismissed a case yesterday brought against Reza Pahlavi accusing him of not providing for the retirement of one of his close friends and bodyguards.
U.S. District Judge Albert V. Bryan Jr. in Alexandria said that Pahlavi had little knowledge of how his estate's money was spent and could not be held personally accountable for employment agreements with servants in his Great Falls home.
"He was not brought up to do these things," Bryan said. "Whether we are envious of that way of life or troubled by it, that is his way of life."
Pahlavi, 30, broke into tears as Bryan delivered his non-jury ruling and said afterward that "justice was done."
Ali Haydar Shahbazi, 58, filed suit last year against Pahlavi, saying that the heir to the Peacock Throne had promised to take care of his tax requirements but did not do it. Shahbazi said he now owes the Internal Revenue Service more than $20,000 in back taxes and penalties.
Shahbazi also said Pahlavi dismissed him two years ago with a handshake and $9,000. Shahbazi said that when the shah's regime fell during the Islamic revolution in 1979, Shahbazi abandoned more than $400,000 in property and dedicated himself to providing round-the-clock safety for Pahlavi.
Mark Sableman, one of Shahbazi's attorneys, said Pahlavi violated Iranian tradition by failing to provide for a servant for life, and violated U.S. tax law by neglecting to withhold taxes on the money Shahbazi was paid from 1984 to 1989.
"His assurances were like the word of God to these people," Sableman said, recalling Shahbazi's testimony that he did not declare income from Pahlavi's estate because Pahlavi told him not to.
Thomas J. Cawley, one of Pahlavi's attorneys, rejected the argument that Pahlavi violated his pledge to care for Shahbazi and dismissed the bodyguard only because there was nothing left in the trust fund his father left him.
"There is absolutely no logic to this fraud," Cawley said. "Why would Reza Pahlavi want to defraud someone whom he was so friendly with, and to whom he was so generous?" Cawley noted that Pahlavi regularly gave Shahbazi several thousand dollars in gifts and allowed him to live luxuriously in Pahlavi's Great Falls home.
Cawley described Shahbazi's suit as a simple shakedown.
"One of the many disadvantages of celebrity -- especially forced celebrity as is the case with my client -- is that you're subject to just this sort of action by people who enjoy the comfort you provide, then turn on you," Cawley said.
Sableman said Pahlavi fired Shahbazi in part because he was having financial troubles and "wanted to be king not only in Iran but in the United States. He wanted to live like a king. He wanted to save money."