Former Chicago Comptroller Pleads Guilty to Kickback Scheme in Ohio

Former Chicago Comptroller Amer Ahmad pleaded guilty in federal court Monday to charges stemming from a kickback scheme he ran with his friends while he was deputy state treasurer in Ohio.

Ahmad entered a guilty plea to bribery and a conspiracy to commit bribery, money laundering and wire fraud, according to a plea agreement he signed with the U.S. attorney's office in the Southern District of Ohio. Maximum prison terms for the charges range from five years to as many as 10 years in prison, according to court documents.

Ahmad's attorney could not be reached for comment on the deal.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel tapped Ahmad for city comptroller when he took office in 2011. Ahmad abruptly resigned this past July.

Weeks later, Ahmad and three other men were accused of conspiracy for a kickback scheme that prosecutors said went on from around January 2009 to around January 2011.

Prosecutors alleged that Ahmad gave state investment work to a former high school classmate in exchange for having $400,000 funneled to a landscaping company in which Ahmad was a part-owner. An additional $123,000 was funneled through a friend and business associate of Ahmad's, prosecutors said.

The other defendants in the case all pleaded guilty before Ahmad's plea.

Records show Ahmad was under federal investigation in the Ohio case as far back as November 2010, more than five months before Emanuel hired him.

Emanuel has steadfastly defended the city's hiring process for Ahmad, who came recommended by Lois Scott, the mayor's chief financial officer.

The mayor has said he did not know Ahmad was the focus of a federal probe until he was indicted, and he has criticized Ohio officials, including former state Treasurer Kevin Boyce, for not informing him. A spokeswoman for Boyce could not be reached Monday.

While working in Ohio, Ahmad signed off on a contract that led to $165,000 in bond fees for Scott's former firm, Scott Balice Strategies, when she was in the private sector. After Scott started as Emanuel's CFO, she selected a firm that employed Boyce for hundreds of thousands of dollars in city bond work.

After Ahmad was indicted, the mayor brought in an outside law firm and an accounting firm to audit his work for the city. A report issued by those firms early this month said there was no indication he committed any wrongdoing at City Hall.

City spokesman Bill McCaffrey declined to comment Monday about Ahmad's guilty plea.

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