Once jailed in Iran for being Christian, murder victim's son now facing drugs and weapons charges here
PORT ALLEN – A man at the center of a high-profile murder plot and a mysterious incarceration in Iran was arrested on drugs and weapons charges in West Baton Rouge, WBRZ has learned.
Hamed Ghassemi was arrested last Friday after deputies stopped the vehicle he was driving for speeding on I-10 near Port Allen. Deputies said they found cocaine, marijuana, a pipe used to smoke weed and a gun inside Ghassemi's Range Rover SUV.
Ghassemi was booked into jail for having drugs and also for having drugs and a gun together.
It's the second time Ghassemi's found himself in a jail cell – in 2015, he claimed he was detained while returning to his family's native Iran to bury his mother following her brutal murder. Then, friends in Baton Rouge said Ghassemi was arrested for his religious beliefs.
"He was accused of becoming a Christian," someone who knows him said in a September 2015 report featured on WBRZ TV and WBRZ.com.
Ghassemi was silent for a year until contacting WBRZ reporter Chris Nakamoto on Facebook. Nakamoto, the Chief Investigator for the WBRZ Investigative Unit, had covered the murder of Ghassemi's mother extensively.
“I … don't have the permit to leave the country as I am facing court and trying to get clear of my charges,” Ghassemi wrote in a message to Nakamoto on Facebook in June 2016.
Ghassemi returned to the United States a year later but did not make many public statements.
At the time of his detainment in Iran, the U.S. State Department, the nation's chief international affairs arm, said it was aware of the situation but would provide no specific information due to privacy concerns. Then, sources said federal officials had been in touch with Ghassemi's family members who live in Iran, but, there was no U.S. involvement to orchestrate a release early-on.
It's not clear what, officially, Iranian authorities were using as a criminal complaint against Ghassemi.
Hamed Ghassemi was vocal in the weeks and months following his mother's 2015 murder.
Tahereh Ghassemi, prosecutors have said, was killed in a murder-for-hire plot involving four people – one of them her ex-husband and Ghassemi's father, Hamid Ghassemi. The elder Ghassemi was in a bitter divorce with his ex-wife and was ordered to pay her over a million dollars, authorities have said.
Prosecutors said he paid three men $10,000 to kidnap Tahereh Ghassemi from her home, torch her car, shoot her and bury her body. Her body was found in a remote area of St. Helena Parish, and investigators said she had been shot. Her car was found burned out on Chalma Avenue.
"Evil exists in the world and unfortunately this evil was closer to home than I ever expected," Hamed Ghassemi, the son, told WBRZ in June 2016.
Hamid Ghassemi owned used car lots in Baton Rouge and Lafayette.
The younger Ghassemi has asked for his father and the three others involved in his mother's murder to be put to death.
"The death penalty is the only thing they deserve," he said in May 2015.
Hamed Ghassemi is no longer in the West Baton Rouge Parish jail.
Follow the publisher of this post on Twitter: @treyschmaltz
Desktop NewsClick to open Continuous News in a sidebar that updates in real-time.
DOTD to hold second open house to address I-10 widening in EBR,...
Significant failure outlined, costs expected to increase at downtown library project
Red Cross to install 1,000 smoke alarms in two BR neighborhoods
Study to take closer look at wages within BRPD
Tight fit: Truck hauling shed fits past stalled 18-wheeler on MS River...