It should come as a surprise to just about nobody that Chicago is the most corrupt big city in America, and long has been. The setting for the godfather of all gangster movies – Scarface, the Shame of a Nation, starring Paul Muni as a thinly disguised Al Capone, directed by Howard Hawks — Chicago has flaunted its outlaw status in the country’s face for nearly a century. And continues to do so, now that one of its own occupies the White House.
Consider this news item, which got no play in the national media beyond the Windy City, whose newspapers have long understood the criminal nature of their municipal government — even if, in the grand tradition of Jake Lingle, they occasionally act as incubators for members of the party. It seems that the former city comptroller, Amer Ahmad — a convicted criminal nonetheless hired by mayor Rahm Emanuel to oversee the city’s finances– is now on the lam; hardly a surprise coming from adherents of the criminal organization masquerading as a political party.
Facing up to 15 years in prison and stripped of his U.S. passport, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s former city comptroller ordered his wife this week “to get him a fake birth certificate from Pakistan for a passport,” according to court records obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times. Now, Amer Ahmad is on the lam, and a judge issued a warrant Friday for his arrest…
Ahmad — who has continued to live in Chicago since resigning from his $165,000-a-year City Hall post last summer — pleaded guilty in December to being part of a large kickback and money-laundering scheme when he was Ohio’s deputy state treasurer.
The crimes occurred before Ahmad joined Emanuel’s administration in April 2011. An outside investigation that City Hall commissioned to review Ahmad’s conduct revealed no criminal wrongdoing by Ahmad or his staff. That investigation cost Chicago taxpayers $825,000.
Left unanswered is why Ahmad was hired in the first place to mind the city’s money. But don’t worry — he didn’t cost Chicagoans one red cent!
Chicago taxpayers spent $825,000 to find out that Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s now-convicted former City Comptroller Amer Ahmad did not cost them a penny beyond his $165,000-a-year salary. The $825,000 was paid to the law firm of Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP and the accounting firm of Grant Thornton for a 47-page report that concluded that Ahmad did not defraud cash-strapped Chicago as he did in Ohio…
An embarrassed Emanuel flatly denied that he should have known about Ahmad’s alleged wrongdoing in Ohio and promised an exhaustive investigation — with Inspector General Joe Ferguson and Corporation Counsel Stephen Patton overseeing the forensic audit.
Ahmad’s arrest warrant is here. [UPDATE: He's been apprehended in Pakistan, after sneaking across the U.S.-Mexican border on foot.]
Ahmad was raised in Ohio by Pakistani immigrant parents. After his guilty plea, Ahmad remained free on bail but surrendered his passport. Though his sentencing date hasn’t been set, he faces up to 15 years in prison and has agreed to pay $3.2 million in restitution. Ahmad had been a rising star in the Emanuel administration before abruptly resigning last summer, saying he wanted to seek a job in the private sector…
Ahmad pleaded guilty in December to federal conspiracy and bribery charges, admitting he used his Ohio government position to secure “lucrative state business” for Douglas Hampton — his high school classmate and financial adviser — “in exchange for payments” to himself and others.
In his plea agreement, Ahmad said Hampton made secret payments to him, and, as Ohio’s deputy treasurer, he steered state securities brokerage work to Hampton. Prosecutors said Ahmad and a business partner — Joseph M. Chiavaroli, also of Chicago — hid those payments by passing them through an Ohio landscaping company they owned.
Interestingly, there’s somebody named “Mohammed” involved in this story as well. And who is he? According to his indictment, he’s an immigration lawyer who last December pleaded guilty to federal charges of “aiding and abetting honest services wire fraud” as part of the general indictment of Ahmad et al. for bribery and money laundering.
Hampton also funneled cash to Mohammed Noure Alo, an attorney, lobbyist and close friend of Ahmad from Columbus. Altogether, Hampton got about $3.2 million in commissions for 360 trades on behalf of the Ohio state treasurer’s office. Ahmad and his co-conspirators — who have all pleaded guilty — got more than $500,000 from Hampton, according to prosecutors.
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