Wrongful death suit says suicide followed IRS raid

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A northern Indiana man has filed a lawsuit blaming the U.S. government for his wife's suicide three days after Internal Revenue Service agents raided their home, saying she couldn't go on living in fear of the agency's trumped-up accusations.

"Being innocent is simply not enough for the government," Denise Simon, a 50-year-old mother of six, wrote in a suicide note posted on a memorial Web site set up by her widower.

In documents filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Fort Wayne, government attorneys denied any responsibility for Simon's death.

Department of Justice spokesman Charles Miller could not immediately say whether any charges had been filed against Simon. He declined to comment on the case.

James Simon, 57, sued the government in February, accusing the government of intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence in obtaining and executing a search warrant, trespass, invasion of privacy and wrongful death. His lawsuit seeks unspecified damages. A similar lawsuit was filed earlier against IRS agents involved in the raid.

Court documents say Denise Simon and the couple's 10-year-old daughter were the only ones home when about 10 armed IRS agents in bulletproof vests raided the Simons' Fort Wayne home at about 7 a.m. on Nov. 6, 2007. James Simon, who maintains a secondary residence in Ukraine, was outside of the United States on business.

His lawsuit alleges that an IRS agent misstated facts and made misleading statements concerning the receipt of farm subsidies and the handling of a family trust to obtain a search warrant from a federal judge.

The suit alleges that another IRS agent improperly accused Denise Simon of wrongdoing during the raid, "causing unnecessary emotional stress."

"I am truly innocent of any attempt to evade taxes, launder money, commit fraud or any of the other things I am being accused of," Denise Simon wrote in another suicide note. She left suicide notes addressed to her husband and each of her children, ages 10 to 19, all of which were posted on the memorial Web site,

James Simon's claims the IRS violated its own policies by not using a less intrusive method to obtain evidence. It cites IRS policy that search warrants are to be used only when evidence cannot be obtained any other way.

It also maintains that the search unnecessarily endangered the Simons' daughter.

"I am currently a danger to my children. I am bringing armed officers into their home," Denise Simon, who was described as a dedicated homemaker and mother, wrote in one of the notes. "I am compelled to distance myself from them for their safety."

In the court documents filed Tuesday, government attorneys denied the allegations and insisted the search warrant was valid. They said Denise Simon's death was "voluntary and self-inflicted."

Denise Simon died of carbon monoxide poisoning Nov. 9, 2007, according to records at the Allen County coroner's office. Her death was ruled a suicide.

Susan Imler, a spokeswoman for the Fort Wayne law firm handling the suit, Beckman Lawson LLP, said no tax charges or penalties were assessed against the Simons after the raid, though the case remains under investigation.