Former Ohio deputy treasurer Amer Ahmad was indicted yesterday by a federal grand jury, accused of taking bribes while in the state job.
Ahmad was indicted on eight counts: three counts of money laundering and one each of conspiracy, bribery, wire fraud, conspiracy to launder money and making false statements.
Ahmad most recently was comptroller for the city of Chicago under Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a job he held from 2011 until July, when he resigned. He left his job as deputy treasurer for Ohio in December 2010 after his boss, Kevin L. Boyce, was defeated for the state treasurer's job.
Ahmad's co-conspirators, according to the indictment, were Columbus attorney and lobbyist Mohammed Noure Alo and mortgage broker Joseph M. Chiavaroli, formerly of Columbus and now of Chicago.
The indictment says that Ahmad, 38, demanded bribes from financial adviser Douglas E. Hampton, who operated Hampton Capital Financial Management of Canton, in exchange for awarding business to Hampton's company when Ahmad was deputy treasurer in 2009 and 2010.
According to the indictment:
--The purpose of the conspiracy was for Ahmad, Alo, Chiavaroli and Hampton "to personally enrich themselves, their friends and associates and their businesses, by using Ahmad's position ... to secure lucrative state business for Hampton in exchange for payments to Ahmad, Alo, Chiavaroli and companies under their control and to conceal the conspiracy."
--Ahmad authorized Hampton, 39, to conduct security trades for the state. Hampton conducted more business for the treasurer's office than any other approved broker, pulling in $3.2 million in revenue for his firm with 360 trades.
--Hampton then gave Ahmad kickbacks of $123,623 in the form of "legal fees" to Ahmad's Five Rivers Partners LLC, and $400,000 in the form of "loans" to Going Green Landscapes and Lawn Care, a company that Chiavaroli founded and Ahmad partially owned.
Alo, 35, is charged with conspiracy and wire fraud.
Chiavaroli, 33, was charged with conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering and conspiracy to launder money.
Those charges were withdrawn early last night after Chiavaroli reached a plea agreement to a bill of information. Details weren't available.
None of the three men is in custody. The case was filed in U.S. District Court in Columbus yesterday after an investigation by the FBI's Central Ohio Public Corruption Task Force.
Ahmad's attorney, W. Kelly Johnson, wrote in a news release yesterday that Ahmad will plead not guilty to the charges and "is confident that he will successfully defend against these charges."
A television campaign ad aired by Josh Mandel, then a candidate against Boyce, focused specifically on Ahmad and Alo. The ad included Middle Eastern-style music and a postcard of a mosque, and it became a flash point in the race.
The ad said, "Boyce outsourced Ohio work to a risky Boston bank but only after they hired his friend as a lobbyist. And the lobbyist? Boyce gave (the lobbyist's) wife a sensitive job in the treasurer's office -- a job Boyce admitted they only made available at their mosque."
Mandel raised questions during the race about what he saw as a too-cozy relationship between Ahmad and Alo, who became a lobbyist for the bank shortly before it received $32 million in contracts from Boyce's office. Boyce also hired Alo's wife for a job in his office. Boyce denied any link between Ahmad, the bank contract and hiring Alo's wife.
Last night, Seth Unger, a spokesman for Mandel's office, said, "The alleged conduct of Amer Ahmad from the previous treasurer's administration is deeply concerning. On behalf of Ohio taxpayers, we hope that he and the others involved are brought to justice."
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