Amer Ahmad, former city comptroller under Mayor Rahm Emanuel, has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Ohio on eight counts: three counts of money laundering and one each of conspiracy, bribery, wire fraud, conspiracy to launder money and making false statements, according to an Ohio newspaper the Columbus Dispatch.
Amer Ahmad had resigned abruptly in late July from his job as city comptroller, in what was then described by the Emanuel Administration as "expected midterm departures." At the time of his resignation Mayor Emanuel said, "Amer has played an integral role in my efforts to reform government, strengthen the city’s finances, and professionalize our approach to fiscal management."
The stunning news is a serious blow to Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his administration, who had made financial reform and fiscal responsibility a centerpiece of the administration. While there is no evidence as yet that Amer Ahmad had done anything similar to Chicago finances, the mayor's office released a press release in order to alleviate those type of fears.
Sarah Hamilton, communications director for the mayor, said in a statement, "We have no reason to believe and have no knowledge of any such wrongdoing during his tenure in Chicago. But we will take any action that is needed — including conducting a review of Finance Department activities over the last two years — to ensure that Chicago taxpayers are protected."
Amer Ahmad was brought in as the City Comptroller and touted in late April of 2011 as part of a "high-powered economic team" that also included Chief Financial Officer Lois Scott, Budget Director Alexandra Holt, City and Chief Technology Officer John Tolva.
The indictment alleges that Ahmad, 38, used his authority in the Ohio treasurer’s office to direct state business to Douglas E. Hampton, 39, a securities broker from Canton, Ohio, in return for payments from Hampton.
The Columbus Dispatch reported that the indictment was contained some of the following:
• 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.
According to Fran Spielman of the Chicago Sun Times, Amer Ahmad played a pivotal role in disbanding the Department of Revenue and folding it into the Department of Finance. He also helped to dramatically reduce the amount of outstanding fines owed to the city by going after scofflaws, which generated $70 million in 2012 alone.
Earlier this year, Ahmad served as the point man in Emanuel’s controversial decision to phase out Chicago’s 55 percent subsidy for retiree health care by 2017 while continuing that coverage for the oldest retirees.
This is the first hint of scandal around the Emanuel Administration and comes at a bad time as the city's bond rating is taking a hit and as the mayor is dealing with large budget deficits in the city and sister agencies.
Mayor Emanuel is out of town and was not immediately available for comment.
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John is the author of an award-winning book, the 2010 Winner of the USA National Best Book award for African American studies, published by The Elevator Group, Mr. and Mrs. Grassroots. Also available an eBook on Amazon. John is also a member of the Society of Midland Authors and is a book reviewer of political books for the New York Journal of Books. John has volunteered for many political campaigns. John is an unpaid volunteer and social media advisor at Robin Kelly for Congress.