Miami, Florida, U.S.A.- Estlund Law client Dr. Faezeh Faghihi has spent her life in the service of others as a physician in her native Iran and in the United States, her adopted home country. Trained as a gynecologist, she practiced as a physician while in Iran, delivering hundreds of babies. She continued working in the medical field after moving to the United States, where she opened a gene sequencing laboratory called Express Gene. At Express Gene, she and her family members, also trained physicians, screened thousands of genetic samples to determine whether patients had COVID-19 or other conditions or illnesses discernible through DNA analysis.

As the Iranian population has a high occurrence of genetic variations, the Faghihi family often provided humanitarian and medical aid to the medical community in Iran, where access to genetic sequencing is less available. They sought licenses where required by OFAC. 

The U.S. government charged Dr. Faghihi and her co-defendant family members with conspiring to illegally export medical equipment to Iran, exporting that equipment, smuggling DNA samples into the United States, and illegally transferring funds from Iran to the United States.

The exportation of genetic sequencing machines to Iran required no license after December of 2016, but despite that change in the law, the Faghihis were charged with exporting genetic sequencing machines without an OFAC license. Dr. Faghihi was charged with acts that were not criminal at the time they were alleged to have occurred. Because the law with which they were charged was no longer a law, the accompanying money laundering/wire fraud charges were invalid as well. Likewise, the importation of DNA was excluded from the list of items that were illegal to import into the U.S. 

After the defense team filed motions to strike the invalid language from the indictment and to dismiss the charges, the government ultimately agreed to dismiss the charges against Dr. Faghihi and her co-defendants. The charges against Dr. Farzaneh Modarresi (represented by Hilton Napoleon) were dropped at the same time as Dr. Faghihi’s, and the charges against Dr. Mohammed Faghihi (represented by Saam Zangeneh) were dropped several months later pursuant to a pre-trial diversion agreement.

Dr. Faghihi has been reunited with her family and is settling back into a normal life. Attorney Estlund said, “This case is an example of how a normal, law-abiding, private citizen can be wrongly targeted by the government. This client and her family did an excellent job of remaining united and mobilized. They worked tirelessly to aid our legal team in Dr. Faghihi’s defense. We are beyond happy for them and for Dr. Faghihi’s victory in this case.”