Former Chicago comptroller charged with bribery, fraud in Ohio

August 15, 2013

Twitter/AmerChicago
File: Amer Ahmad and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

A former top financial aide to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel was indicted on federal corruption charges in Ohio late Wednesday, just weeks after leaving his City Hall job.

Former city of Chicago Comptroller Amer Ahmad, who left his city job July 23, was charged with eight counts, including money laundering, fraud and bribery.

The alleged crimes took place between January 2009 and January 2011, when Ahmad was the Deputy Treasurer for the State of Ohio, according to the federal indictment.

Prosecutors allege Ahmad accepted bribes from a broker and financial advisor, Douglas E. Hampton, in exchange for steering state business his way, including making Hampton the broker for a series of lucrative securities trades on behalf of the state, ultimately netting him more than $3.2 million in commission.

In exchange, Hampton funneled payments totalling $123,622 to Ahmad, prosecutors allege. The government also charges that Hampton paid Ahmad and Joseph Chiavaroli, an alleged co-conspirator, about $400,000, disguised as loans to a landscaping company jointly controlled by the two men.

Ahmad could not immediately be reached Thursday night. In a statement on the MarketWatch website, the law firm Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP said Ahmad plans to plead not guilty.

“Amer Ahmad will voluntarily appear in U.S. District Court on Monday to plead not guilty to all charges against him and to deny wrongdoing during his time as Deputy Treasurer of the State of Ohio,” the statement reads. “The indictment does not allege that there was any financial loss to the state treasury. Under Mr. Ahmad's stewardship, Ohio's investments were protected and stabilized.”

Emanuel’s administration on Thursday night said it was already considering an audit of the Finance Department activities to make sure nothing was amiss during Ahmad’s watch in Chicago.

“The Mayor has a record of zero tolerance for the kind of criminal violations and abuse of the public trust that are alleged in this indictment,” Emanuel spokeswoman Sarah Hamilton wrote in a statement. “We had no knowledge of the investigation until today's news reports, and it appears to be focused on alleged activities when Ahmad served the State of Ohio. We have no reason to believe and have no knowledge of any such wrongdoing during his tenure in Chicago.”

Mayor Emanuel, meanwhile, is out of town on a camping trip.

Ahmad came into City Hall with Emanuel when the mayor first took office in May 2011. Under his watch, the city has balanced tough budgets by increasing fees and fines and cracking down on people who owe the city money. He also oversaw the city’s decision to cut health care subsidies to 30,000 city workers.